NFL Power Rankings: B/R's Expert Consensus Rank for Every Team Entering Week 8
Almost two months into the NFL season, we know some things with relative certainty.
The Los Angeles Rams and Kansas City Chiefs are great teams with buzzsaws for offenses. At the other end of the spectrum, the Arizona Cardinals and Buffalo Bills are complete disasters for whom the phrase "touchdown" is an exotic and foreign term.
The New England Patriots, as usual, are good. The Cleveland Browns, as usual, are not.
But there are plenty of mysteries, as well. How good are the up-and-down Carolina Panthers. Or the struggling Super Bowl champions in Philadelphia. Are the Cincinnati Bengals for real? What about the Washington Redskins?
As each week's action comes and goes, we glean valuable clues to help us solve those mysteries. Week 7 was no exception—there was a blowout in KC, a photo-finish in Chicago and a first-time-ever finish in Baltimore.
With Week 7 winding down, Bleacher Report NFL analysts Brad Gagnon, Brent Sobleski and Gary Davenport have gathered to once again rank all 32 NFL teams from worst to first.
No. 32 is the same as last week. So is No. 1. But in-between?
32. Oakland Raiders (1-5)
Last Week: 32
Week 7 Result: Bye Week
The good news for the Oakland Raiders is that the team managed to avoid another loss in Week 7.
The bad news is that the only way the team was able to do so was by not playing at all.
Even in a week the Raiders didn't take the field, there was bad news. Per ESPN, tailback Marshawn Lynch will miss at least a month after injuring his groin in the team's Week 6 loss to the Seattle Seahawks. Oakland hasn't ruled out placing Lynch on injured reserve.
Given that Lynch was one of the few things that was working for the one-win Raiders, to say this was not welcome news for the Raiders is an understatement. But welcome news has been in short supply in Jon Gruden's first year as head coach.
The offense is sputtering, and without Lynch and with Amari Cooper possibly on his way out of town, that's not likely to change any time soon. The defense is porous. The pass rush is nonexistent, making the trade that sent Khalil Mack to Chicago look…
Well, it looks about as wise as giving Gruden $100 million to coach the team.
31. Arizona Cardinals (1-6)
Last Week: 31
Week 7 Result: Lost vs. Denver 45-10
This is what rock bottom looks like.
Playing at home against a Denver Broncos team that had lost its last four games, the Cardinals were annihilated Thursday night. It was a horror show for Arizona from beginning to end. The second play of the game was a pick-six by Arizona quarterback Josh Rosen. He added another later in a first quarter that ended with the Cardinals down 21-3.
The Cardinals continue to redefine the concept of offensive futility. Arizona hasn't gained 300 yards of offense in a game yet this year. The team came into Week 7 converting less than 22 percent of its third downs—over a full season, that would be (per the Thursday Night Football telecast) the lowest percentage in over 40 years.
That going 4-of-14 in that regard in Week 7 represents a marked improvement indicates just how horrible the Cardinals have been offensively.
Thursday's trouncing got offensive coordinator Mike McCoy the boot, but it's going to take more than a new play-caller for the Cardinals to climb out of the NFC West basement.
30. San Francisco 49ers (1-6)
Last Week: 27
Week 7 Result: Lost vs. Los Angeles Rams 39-10
Last Monday night in Green Bay, the San Francisco 49ers lost. But as the team had several times this season, the Niners put up a valiant effort. They were a tough out.
On Sunday in Santa Clara, the San Francisco 49ers lost.
And they put up no fight at all.
To say the Niners got steamrolled by their NFC West rivals is being kind. The 49ers had just 228 total yards of offense and had more turnovers (four) than third-down conversions (three). Quarterback CJ Beathard was sacked seven times and will probably be having nightmares about Aaron Donald for months.
It was a stark reminder of both how good the Rams are and how bad these injury-ravaged 49ers are. A season that started with promise and hype is now irretrievably broken.
They might as well go whole-hog and tank for a better draft pick next April.
29. Buffalo Bills (2-5)
Last Week: 30
Week 7 Result: Lost at Indianapolis 37-5
The NFL's worst teams waged quite the battle to outdo one another at stinking in Week 7.
It looked like the Cardinals would be hard to top after getting blasted by 35 at home on Thursday night.
But the Bills gave the Redbirds a run for their money.
With the recently signed Derek Anderson under center, the Bills were horrendous in Indy on Sunday. The Bills barely cracked 300 total yards. Anderson didn't crack 200 yards through the air and turned the ball over four times on his own—including three interceptions.
They might as well have run Nathan Peterman out there again.
"No team could handle their respective quarterback situation any worse than the Bills this season," Sobleski said. "Head coach Sean McDermott chose to start Nathan Peterman to start the season before quickly pulling him for rookie Josh Allen. Allen suffered an elbow injury so the team chose to start veteran Derek Anderson despite signing with the team only 10 days earlier. Anderson threw three interceptions. The Bills won't go anywhere until they solve the game's most important position."
28. New York Giants (1-6)
Last Week: 28
Week 7 Result: Lost 23-20 at Atlanta
The New York Giants are putting a lot of effort into being bad this year.
On a night when Eli Manning threw for 399 yards and wideouts Odell Beckham Jr. and Sterling Shepard both surpassed 100 receiving yards, the G-Men still found a way to lose to an Atlanta team that can't play defense even a little.
There were more questionable coaching decisions by Pat Shurmur in this game than you can count. A bizarre two-point conversion attempt with the Giants down eight that failed, and a pair of quarterback sneaks as regulation wound down that ate up precious seconds the Giants could have used, had they been able to recover an onside kick down three, were two examples.
You can call it aggressive. Say that the one-win Giants have nothing to lose. But the thing is: The Giants did have something to lose—the game. And thanks in part to those gaffes, that's exactly what happened.
The Giants had plenty of problems without adding bad coaching to the mix.
One more log for the dumpster fire.
27. Indianapolis Colts (2-5)
Last Week: 29
Week 7 Result: Won vs. Buffalo 37-5
Having a bad year? Feeling sad about a season that's spiraling out of control?
The Buffalo Bills can help!
The Colts stopped their four-game skid with a bang Sunday, trouncing the Bills at home in a game in which Andrew Luck threw four touchdown passes and the defense forced five turnovers.
Much like with Denver's Thursday night thrashing of the miserable Arizona Cardinals, it's hard to read a ton into this win, convincing though it may be.
This is a Bills team that already ranked at or near the bottom of the NFL in most offensive categories—and that was before it started a quarterback (Derek Anderson) who had been with the team all of a week.
There's a chance the Colts could use this as a springboard of sorts. Of Indy's next five games, just one is against a team with a winning record—and that's the 4-3 Dolphins.
Keep hope alive, Indy!
26. Cleveland Browns (2-4-1)
Last Week: 24
Week 7 Result: Lost at Tampa Bay 26-23 (OT)
In the NFL, good teams figure out ways to win the close ones.
It's becoming readily apparent that the Cleveland Browns, while improved relative to last year's winless disaster, are not a good football team.
Frankly, the Browns were fortunate to take this game to overtime. The defense, as it has been all season, was highly opportunistic, notching four sacks and forcing an equal number of turnovers.
Still, there were just too many mistakes. A pair of failures to convert fourth downs deep in Tampa Bay territory. Five more sacks allowed. A terrible 3-of-14 success rate on third down. Fourteen penalties for 114 yards.
Teams that are a lot more talented than the Browns would be hard-pressed to overcome that many gaffes.
There were positives as well (in addition to another good day by the defense, the Browns gained over five yards a carry on the ground), but the NFL is a results-driven business.
And until the Browns cut way back on the mistakes, the results are going to be all too familiar in Cleveland.
"The Browns are the worst-coached, most undisciplined team in the league, which says a lot considering the Raiders are still a thing," Gagnon wrote. "Cleveland has so much talent and so much promise, but it's obvious that this will be another last-place season because the team is tragically under-prepared and mismanaged. I don't care if they should already have five or six wins, and I'm not sure they'll finish this season with more than three or four. Fortunately for them, that might mean the end of the Hue Jackson era."
25. New York Jets (3-4)
Last Week: 22
Week 7 Result: Lost vs. Minnesota 37-17
If the New York Jets were going to have a chance of pulling off an upset against the Minnesota Vikings Sunday, the team was going to need to play a mistake-free, crisply executed game.
That most assuredly did not happen.
If there was a primary knock on quarterback Sam Darnold coming out of USC, it's that he had a tendency to force throws that turned into turnovers. It's the one thing an NFL quarterback just cannot do.
And Darnold did it repeatedly against the Vikings, tossing three picks. He also fumbled twice, losing one.
The Jets have shown this year that when they play well, they are capable of giving just about anyone a run for their money. New York has topped 30 points three times and 40 points twice—all in victories.
However, when New York doesn't play well, the team's flaws become much more pronounced.
That was the case against the Vikings.
24. Tennessee Titans (3-4)
Last Week: 23
Week 7 Result: Lost vs. Los Angeles Chargers 20-19 (London)
The closing sequence of Tennessee's Week 7 loss in London may go down as the defining moment of the Titans' 2018 season.
After falling behind 17-6 early in the third quarter, a Titans team that's been stumbling of late rallied to get back in the game. A Marcus Mariota touchdown pass on fourth down with less than a minute left closed Tennessee to within an extra point of tying the game.
But rather than kick that extra point, Titans head coach Mike Vrabel chose to go for a game-winning two-point conversion. It failed, and now the Titans will have two weeks to stew over the one that got away.
Davenport wasn't a fan of the decision.
"If that conversion attempt had been successful, we'd all be hailing Vrabel as a gutsy genius or whatnot. But it didn't, so he'll get roasted. And rightfully so. The Titans had clearly outplayed the Chargers in the second half of that game. The smart play was to play for overtime and let the same players that battled back seal the deal, not take a needless gamble that sends the team into the bye on a three-game skid."
23. Miami Dolphins (4-3)
Last Week: 17
Week 7 Result: Lost vs. Detroit 32-21
Offensively at least, the Miami Dolphins played well enough to win in Week 7. For the second week in a row, Miami quarterback Brock Osweiler posted a passer rating of well over 100. Miami had just 107 yards on the ground, but the team did manage 5.6 yards a carry.
Unfortunately, the defense didn't hold up its end of the deal even a little.
Miami's defense was scorched with equal ease through the air and on the ground. Matthew Stafford missed on just four of his 22 pass attempts and tossed a pair of scores. Tailback Kerryon Johnson keyed a run game that gouged out a jaw-dropping 248 yards on the ground.
All told, the Lions piled up 457 yards of total offense—and teams don't generally win in the NFL when they surrender over 450 total yards.
The high from last week's overtime win over the Chicago Bears didn't last long—and now Miami has a short week to prepare for the red-hot Houston Texans.
22. Denver Broncos (3-4)
Last Week: 26
Week 7 Result: Won at Arizona 45-10
After winning their first two games of the season, the Denver Broncos had dropped four in a row heading into Thursday's matchup with the Cardinals in Arizona. In each of their last two losses, the reeling Broncos allowed a 200-yard rusher.
Luckily for the Broncos, facing the hapless Redbirds is a cure for all that ails you.
The problem is that it's hard to gauge much from this victory. Yes, the Broncos destroyed the Cardinals, but it's difficult to tell if that's a function of Denver addressing some of their issues and improving or if it's just that Arizona really is that bad.
This was a game in which Denver's defense outscored Arizona's putrid offense. Denver gained 132 yards on the ground but did so at a relatively modest 4.2 yards a carry. Case Keenum completed just 14 passes and threw his ninth interception of the season.
In other words, while Denver stopped its skid in emphatic fashion, there's still a lot that's going to need to be cleaned up ahead of next week's trip to Kansas City.
21. Dallas Cowboys (3-4)
Last Week: 16
Week 7 Result: Lost at Washington 20-17
In more games than not, as goes tailback Ezekiel Elliott, so goes the Dallas Cowboys. If Zeke has a big game, the Cowboys win. If he's held in check, the Dallas offense tends to struggle.
It became clear early in Sunday's big NFC East showdown in D.C. that the Washington Redskins had no intention of letting Elliott beat them. They attacked the box, limiting him to 42 total yards and 2.2 yards per carry.
Quarterback Dak Prescott did his best to pick up the slack, passing for 273 yards and tying Elliott for the team lead in rushing with 33 yards. But Prescott also committed a pair of turnovers, including a strip-sack recovered for a score in the fourth quarter.
It was a clinic in how to beat the Cowboys. An expose of their weakness.
If you can shut down Elliott and force Prescott to throw to beat you, you're halfway home. Dallas doesn't have the passing-game talent to do it consistently.
20. Atlanta Falcons (3-4)
Last Week: 20
Week 7 Result: Won 23-20 vs. New York Giants
Now that the Atlanta Falcons downed the New York Giants for their second straight win, it's fair to wonder if the team has turned it around somewhat. And if, perhaps, an Atlanta squad that was ravaged by injuries early has re-captured its bearings and might be able to at least make a run at a wild-card spot.
But it doesn't take a long look at Monday's win for the shine to start wearing off. Atlanta's porous defense made Eli Manning look like a Super Bowl MVP again, surrendering almost 400 passing yards. The Falcons rushing attack continues to be stuck in neutral without Devonta Freeman, managing just 67 yards on 20 carries.
This is a game Atlanta led by 11 with under two minutes left, only to allow the Giants to quickly answer. If New York head coach Pat Shurmur were slightly better at clock management than he is at math, this contest could easily have gotten away from the Falcons.
That might be good enough to beat a bad Giants team, but it's not getting Atlanta back to the postseason.
19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-3)
Last Week: 21
Week 7 Result: Won vs. Cleveland 26-23 (OT)
Had you told us before Sunday's game between the Browns and Buccaneers that Tampa Bay would allow a season-low 305 total yards, the Bucs would pile up 456 yards of total offense and Jameis Winston would throw for 365 yards, we would have assumed that the Buccaneers would win going away.
Instead, it took a 59-yard field goal from Chandler Catanzaro (who missed from 40 at the end of regulation) to dispatch a feisty Browns team.
The reason? Turnovers. Four of them to be precise, including a pair of interceptions from Winston.
However, as Sobleski wrote, Tampa Bay also got its best defensive effort of the season.
"Somehow, the Buccaneers fired defensive coordinator Mike Smith last week and put together arguably the team's best defensive performance of the year Sunday against the Cleveland Browns. Cleveland didn't have an answer during the first half. The Browns forced mistakes after halftime, but they didn't prove to be enough thanks to Chandler Cantazaro's 59-yard overtime field goal. Tampa Bay's offense will score points. The Bucs just need their defense to make a few stops to be successful."
But that effort came at a steep cost—per Ian Rapoport of NFL.com, Tampa fears that star middle linebacker Kwon Alexander tore his ACL in the win.
If that's the case, it's a massive blow to a Tampa Bay defense that's been among the worst in the NFL most of the season.
18. Seattle Seahawks (3-3)
Last Week: 19
Week 7 Result: Bye Week
Generally speaking, NFL teams like to have their bye week in Week 8 through Week 10—effectively cutting the regular season right down the middle.
The Seattle Seahawks probably aren't complaining about having one a bit earlier, though.
Over the last month, the Seahawks appear to be putting it together. Seattle has won three of four games, including a Week 6 romp over the Oakland Raiders that was easily Seattle's best effort of the season. In each of those three wins, the Seahawks allowed 17 or fewer points.
Seattle playing good defense isn't all that surprising. But as Davenport pointed out, the Seahawks new offensive emphasis rather is.
"This Seattle team was supposed to be all about the right arm of Russell Wilson," Davenport said. "Instead, of late it's been about a ground-and-pound offense that's running the ball as much as any team in the NFL. It's working, The Seahawks are controlling tempo and time of possession, and a team that looked dead in the water a few weeks ago now has a pulse."
17. Houston Texans (4-3)
Last Week: 25
Week 7 Result: Won at Jacksonville 20-7
What a difference a month makes.
Four weeks ago, the 0-3 Texans looked to be on a collision course with a top-five draft pick. Now, after trouncing the Jaguars in Jacksonville for their biggest win of the year, the Texans are 4-3 and in first place by themselves in the AFC South.
Sunday's game was just about an even split in many regards. Both teams had about the same number of total yards. Both ran approximately the same number of plays. Time of possession was nearly identical. First downs were.
But whereas the Jaguars turned the ball over three times, the Texans took care of the rock—and in doing so took over first place in the division.
"It would appear," Davenport said, "that we may have written off the Texans a bit too soon. The team has talent on both sides of the ball, and after a bumpy start, Houston has righted the ship. With a favorable schedule to boot, the Texans are in good position to make a run at a playoff spot."
"The Texan's can't protect Deshaun Watson," Sobleski added. "The quarterback is dealing with a bruised lung as a result. Yet Houston found a way to rip off four straight victories and zoom to the top of the struggling AFC South. While Jacksonville seemingly lost its way, Watson is doing just enough coupled by an outstanding defense to keep the Texans alive and winning game despite the roster's shortcomings."
16. Jacksonville Jaguars (3-4)
Last Week: 11
Week 7 Result: Lost vs. Houston 20-7
Remember when the Jacksonville Jaguars were good?
Neither do we.
The same Jaguars that were inside the top five in these rankings not too long ago are now in full-on implosion mode after losing at home to the Texans on Sunday.
This marks three straight weeks that the Jaguars have been blown out. Three straight weeks that the Jacksonville offense has been atrocious. And three straight weeks that the supposedly stout Jaguars defense has looked anything but.
Over the last three games, Jacksonville has been outscored 90-28—including a staggering 57-0 in the first half. Blake Bortles was benched Sunday after fumbling twice. And per ESPN.com's Michael DiRocco, several jaguars players were yelling at one another in the locker room after the game.
Davenport thinks critical mass has been reached.
"This team's gone from Super Bowl contender to looking like they won't even make the playoffs. The quarterback play is hot garbage, players are losing their cool with one another and the run game barely cracked three yards a carry Sunday. Next week's game in London is a must-win for the Jags and Eagles—the loser's Super Bowl aspirations are all but toast."
15. Detroit Lions (3-3)
Last Week: 17
Week 7 Result: Won at Miami 32-21
Don't look now, but the Detroit Lions are quietly making their way back into the conversation in the NFC North.
That the Lions were able to beat the Dolphins on Sunday isn't all that surprising—the Dolphins were the worst 4-2 team in the NFL and battling a litany of injuries. But how the Lions did it was a little, well, un-Lions-like.
On a day when quarterback Matthew Stafford passed for a relatively modest 217 yards, rookie tailback Kerryon Johnson was outstanding. Johnson gashed Miami for 158 yards on 19 carries—averaging over eight yards a pop.
I think the Lions' running the ball is a portent of the Apocalypse.
The Detroit defense did its part too—holding Miami to just 322 total yards. But it was a balanced offense that topped 450 total yards that ruled the day.
"Yeah, the Lions beat the Patriots and Packers by a combined 24 points, but those performances came in the friendly confines of Ford Field," Gagnon wrote. "In Week 7, they proved that they could rock on the road with a double-digit victory over an opponent that entered that matchup with a 3-0 home record. That offense finally has balance and quarterback Matthew Stafford is quietly having a superb season. Don't be shocked if they sneak into the playoff race."
14. Green Bay Packers (3-2-1)
Last Week: 15
Week 7 Result: Bye Week
The Green Bay Packers no doubt had one major goal during the team's week off.
Figure out what’s wrong with the defense.
It will help the Packers to get wide receivers Randall Cobb and Geronimo Allison back. But pass-catchers aren't the team's most glaring issue. A defense that has surrendered over 30 points in three of its last four games is.
Last week against the San Francisco 49ers, Aaron Rodgers rallied the Packers to a last-second win. But the fact that was necessary against a team with one win on the season goes a long way toward highlighting the issue.
It's a sadly familiar refrain in Green Bay during Rodgers' time under center. Far too often he's been forced to stand on his head to compensate for the Packers' defensive deficiencies.
It's also a large part of the reason that one of the best quarterbacks in NFL history has only one Super Bowl ring.
13. Cincinnati Bengals (4-3)
Last Week: 12
Week 7 Result: Lost 45-10 at Kansas City
If last week's last-second loss to Pittsburgh at home was a heartbreaker, Sunday night's game in Kansas City was a backbreaker.
The Bengals were smoked. The defense had no answer whatsoever for the Chiefs offense. Even more alarmingly, against one of the NFL's most porous defenses, the Bengals scored a season-low 10 points.
Gary Davenport hit the panic button after the pummeling.
"This was Cincinnati's worst nightmare," he said. "All the wisecracks about the Bengals being afraid of the dark came to life. A terrible effort on both sides of the ball. An appearance by "Primetime" Andy Dalton, who threw a pick-six. Sloppy execution. Penalties. You name it. Twice in the last two weeks, the Bengals have been tested by good teams. Twice they've failed. Insert paper tigers crack here."
The Bengals don't get much time to lick their wounds: The team's next three games are all against teams (Tampa, New Orleans, at Baltimore) with at least a .500 record.
12. Philadelphia Eagles (3-4)
Last Week: 9
Week 7 Result: Lost vs. Carolina 21-17
After dropping a piano on the New York Giants in Week 6, the Philadelphia Eagles appeared to have finally put it all together this season. Racing out to a 17-0 lead at home against a good Carolina Panthers team just seemed to reinforce that.
But that was before a jaw-dropping collapse in which Philly allowed three unanswered fourth-quarter touchdowns in a loss that drops the defending Super Bowl champs back below .500.
Hit the big red button, folks. Something isn't right in Philly.
Carson Wentz had another good game Sunday, passing for 310 yards and two scores. But he has very little help. A non-existent Eagles ground game gained just 58 yards on 24 carries. A Philly defense that was supposed to be a strength of the team allowed over seven yards a carry and fell apart over the final 15 minutes of the game. And Wentz took a beating (again), getting sacked four times and hit five more.
The last time a Super Bowl champion fell to 3-4 was in 2013 with the Baltimore Ravens.
That team failed to make the postseason.
Sunday's London matchup with the Jaguars just became a do-or-die game for these Eagles.
11. Chicago Bears (3-3)
Last Week: 8
Week 7 Result: Lost vs. New England 38-31
In recent weeks, the Chicago Bears have been masters of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. Last week, it was a devastating overtime loss in Miami. This time, it was a defeat at home against the Patriots in which the Bears led the game in just about every statistical category except the scoreboard.
There was even a Hail Mar.
Yes, that's right. A Hail Mar. No "y", because after Kevin White caught Mitchell Trubisky's heave on the game's final play, White was tackled…at the 1-yard line.
It was depressing. Demoralizing. All the other bad "d" words.
That's three losses in excruciating fashion—remember that the Bears raced out to a big Week 1 lead over the Packers only to have a one-legged Aaron Rodgers engineer an improbable comeback.
The Bears are better than their record. But it will be interesting to see how the team responds to having their hearts ripped out…again.
Gagnon thinks these Bears just aren't quite ready for prime time.
"The young Bears just make too many mistakes," Gagnon mused. "This team has the right pieces in place, but back-to-back losses that easily could have been wins indicate Chicago is still a year away."
10. Baltimore Ravens (4-3)
Last Week: 10
Week 7 Result: Lost vs. New Orleans 24-23
There are devastating losses. There are bizarre losses.
Then there's what happened in Baltimore on Sunday.
The Baltimore Ravens had hung in blow for blow with the New Orleans Saints. After scoring a touchdown near the end of regulation, all the Ravens needed was a Justin Tucker extra point.
In his career, Tucker had attempted 222 PATs. He had never missed. Ever. Not once.
Can you guess where we're going with this?
"I'll just say this. I'll offer to you guys," Tucker said after the game, per ESPN's Jamison Hensley. "Every kicker, every football player is going to come across a challenge moment. Play long enough you are going to have a kick you want back, and tonight was that night for me."
However, in Brad Gagnon's opinion, this loss was more than just one missed kick.
"The fourth quarter of Sunday's game against New Orleans confirmed that the Saints are Super Bowl contenders and the Ravens are not," he said.
"While Drew Brees and Co. rose to the occasion, the Ravens wilted under the pressure. In front of a home crowd, a defense that had surrendered just six fourth-quarter points all season gave up 17 in an 11-minute span.
"They still could have survived that because they entered that quarter with a double-digit lead, but Joe Flacco spent much of said quarter looking like a terrified kitten praying for defensive pass interference penalties as an offensive strategy. Baltimore isn't going anywhere."
9. Washington Redskins (4-2)
Last Week: 13
Week 7 Result: Won vs. Dallas 20-17
A couple of weeks ago, the Washington Redskins were waylaid 43-19 in New Orleans. At 2-2, they looked like the poster children for the NFC East: a mediocre team in a mediocre division.
Now, the Redskins look like a team with a firm grip on first place. By virtue of their 20-17 win over the Cowboys at FedEx Field, they are now up two games in the loss column on Dallas and Philadelphia.
The Redskins aren't blowing anyone away. Alex Smith threw for just 178 yards. Adrian Peterson averaged an OK 4.1 yards per carry. No receiver had five catches or 45 yards.
But just as they did last week against the Carolina Panthers, the Redskins made plays when they needed to on both sides of the ball.
Brent Sobleski is not worrying about style points.
"An important outcome—no matter how it was achieved—went in Washington's favor Sunday against the Dallas Cowboys," he said. "Washington now sits atop the struggling NFC East with a 4-2 record and a 1.5-game lead. A top-five defense is being supplemented by Adrian Peterson's resurgence. How Jay Gruden's squad gets the job done may not be pretty, but they're doing more than enough in a poor division."
8. Carolina Panthers (4-2)
Last Week: 14
Week 7 Result: Won at Philadelphia 21-17
Good luck figuring out the Carolina Panthers.
After making it into the top-10 of the Bleacher Report NFL power rankings, the Panthers came out flat in a loss to Washington—an effort that caused a seven-slot free-fall.
For much of Sunday's game in Philly, it appeared a repeat was in order. The Panthers were thoroughly out-played over the first 45 minutes of the game and trailed 17-0 at the end of the third quarter.
So of course, those same Panthers peeled off three unanswered touchdowns to stun the defending Super Bowl champions.
The result left Davenport befuddled.
"The Panthers are a good team," he said. "At least, I think they're good—they're 4-2 with wins over contenders in Philadelphia and Cincinnati. But I don't know how seriously I can take them as a legitimate threat in the NFC. They just can't seem to put together two good games in row, and that lack of consistency is going to cost them at some point."
The Panthers will have a chance to strengthen their case in the weeks to come. Carolina hosts the Baltimore Ravens next week and travels to Pittsburgh for a tilt with the Steelers on November 8.
7. Los Angeles Chargers (5-2)
Last Week: 7
Week 7 Result: Won vs. Tennessee 20-19 (London)
For a time Sunday, it appeared the Chargers were going to do what they have done with alarming regularity in recent seasons—lose a game they should have won.
After building a 17-6 lead early in the third quarter against the Titans in London, the Chargers were outplayed by Tennessee for most of the second half. Had Titans head coach Mike Vrabel not gambled at the end of a game on a two-point conversion attempt that failed, this one would have gone to overtime and quite possibly gotten away from LA.
The thing is, though—it didn't.
The Chargers didn't play their best game in Week 7 by any stretch. A compelling argument can be made that the Bolts got lucky in London.
But that's cause for optimism in and of itself. The Chargers aren't a team that's known for good fortune. Over the past handful of seasons, the only kind of luck the Chargers have had is bad.
But after escaping London with a win without star tailback Melvin Gordon, it appears that luck may be changing.
6. Pittsburgh Steelers (3-2-1)
Last Week: 6
Week 7 Result: Bye Week
Ask not for whom the Bell tolls—because no one knows.
The general belief was that Pittsburgh Steelers tailback Le'Veon Bell was going to end his holdout and report to the team during the bye week. But that bye week has come and gone, and there's still been no sign of the Pro Bowler.
Now, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter, a new rumor is making the rounds: Leery of being traded, Bell won't show up in the Steel City until after the October 30 trade deadline.
The reality is, no one knows when Bell is going to arrive. It's likely he will at some point so he can accrue a year of service time toward free agency (he needs six games to do so), but when is a mystery known only to Bell.
For that matter, we don't know what kind of shape Bell will be in when he does show up.
Luckily for the Steelers, given the way James Conner has played of late, they can afford to be patient—although having one of the league's best backs ready for a postseason push would be nice.
5. Minnesota Vikings (4-2-1)
Last Week: 5
Week 7 Result: Won at New York Jets 37-17
You could make a convincing argument that the Minnesota Vikings hadn't earned a top-five ranking here over the first six weeks of the season. This was an (alleged) Super Bowl contender that got flattened at home by Buffalo and had trouble putting away the Arizona Cardinals.
No, really. Both those things actually happened.
But Sunday in New York, the Vikings looked the part of one of the best teams in the NFC, taking a Jets team that's been competitive this year behind the proverbial woodshed in the second half.
The offense scored three touchdowns on plays of over 30 yards. The defense forced four turnovers and held the Jets to 263 total yards.
There's no time to enjoy this win, however. The Vikings now have to prepare for a rematch of last year's divisional-round thriller with the New Orleans Saints.
On Sunday at least, the Vikings looked ready.
4. New Orleans Saints (5-1)
Last Week: 3
Week 7 Result: Won at Baltimore 24-23
It's long been something of a knock on Drew Brees and the Saints that the team isn't the same away from the Superdome. Get them out of New Orleans, and the Saints become much less explosive—especially outdoors in the elements.
That held true (to an extent) in Week 7. But the Saints were able to pull out a one-point win in Baltimore to keep their perch atop the NFC South at 5-1 in a game where Brees became the newest member of the 500-touchdown club.
Yes, if you want to get all technical about it, the Saints only won the game because Ravens kicker Justin Tucker did something he has never done in his professional life—he missed an extra point.
But the win counts the same whether it's by one point or 20, and the Saints were able to squeak past a good team on the road.
From here things get really interesting for New Orleans. A trip to Minnesota for a playoff rematch next Sunday night, followed by a home date with the Rams, a trip to Cincinnati and a matchup with the defending Super Bowl champion Eagles.
Other than that, the schedule over the next month is a piece of cake.
3. Kansas City Chiefs (6-1)
Last Week: 4
Week 7 Result: Won 45-10 vs. Cincinnati
There were a couple of themes over the first month-and-a-half of the 2018 season with the Chiefs.
First, the offense was unstoppable. Loaded with skill-position talent and led by a superstar in the making in Patrick Mahomes, the Kansas City offense put up points and gobbled up yardage like it was playing Madden.
Second, the defense couldn't stop, well, anyone. The Chiefs allowed more yardage over the first six games of this season than any team in NFL history.
Theme No. 1 was most assuredly in effect Sunday against the Bengals. Theme No. 2? Not so much. The Chiefs surrendered just 10 points and 239 total yards in what was easily the team's best all-around effort of the season.
Brad Gagnon saw enough Sunday night to give the Chiefs a bump.
"Did you see what Kansas City did to a quality opponent Sunday night? Andy Reid is a master, and his offense is the best thing happening in the NFL this season," he said. "It's hard to jump up a spot in the top four when the three teams ahead of you won, but the Chiefs were lights-out, and the Patriots and Saints were not."
Gary Davenport did too, and that vaulted KC back into the top three.
2. New England Patriots (5-2)
Last Week: 2
Week 7 Result: Won at Chicago 38-31
From a quick look at the stat sheet, one would think the New England Patriots lost to the Chicago Bears Sunday.
The Patriots were outgained in the game, 453 to 381. The Patriots had fewer first downs, lost the turnover and time-of-possession battles, and converted a lower percentage of third downs. Mitchell Trubisky even had more passing yards than Tom Brady.
And yet, the Pats managed to pull out a seven-point victory, thanks in large part to not one but two special teams touchdowns—one on a kick return and the other on a blocked punt.
It was an effort that left Davenport equal parts nonplussed and impressed.
"The Patriots didn't have Rob Gronkowski and got outplayed in many aspects, and still, somehow, it was New England who wound up winning this game," Davenport said. "This is what makes the Pats so aggravatingly dangerous. Even when they aren't playing their best, the Patriots are convinced they will somehow win the game. And then they do."
1. Los Angeles Rams (7-0)
Last Week: 1
Week 7 Result: Won at San Francisco 39-10
The Los Angeles Rams and San Francisco 49ers both play in the West division of the National Football Conference.
In Week 7, it looked like they were in vastly different leagues—playing different sports.
The Rams only had 331 yards of total offense in the game. But while the yardage total wasn't gaudy, L.A. was ruthlessly efficient. Jared Goff was sharp throwing the ball. Todd Gurley amassed 86 total yards and found the end zone three more times.
The defense was even better than the offense; Los Angeles racked up seven sacks and forced four turnovers. Defensive lineman Aaron Donald piled up four of those sacks by himself.
It was a beautiful display of precision on both sides of the ball and painful to watch. The NFL's best team against one of its worst.
Make no mistake: the Rams are the best team in football.
It isn't even close.