NFL Power Rankings: B/R's Consensus Rank for Every Team Entering Week 8
We're entering the eight-week mark of the 2019 NFL season. And division races are taking shape.
In Seattle, an impressive victory by the visiting Baltimore Ravens has sent two divisions closer to becoming runaways. The Seahawks now sit two games behind the still-undefeated San Francisco 49ers in the NFC West, while the Ravens have opened up an even larger lead in the AFC North with the Cleveland Browns and Pittsburgh Steelers sitting out Week 7.
In the NFC North, the Green Bay Packers stayed hot with a win over the Oakland Raiders. But the Minnesota Vikings may be even hotter, and they sit just a game back. The New England Patriots are still in first place in the AFC East, but the surprising Buffalo Bills are right on their heels.
And by virtue of victories in pivotal division matchups, the Indianapolis Colts and Dallas Cowboys have seized control of the AFC South and NFC East, respectively.
With Week 7 in the rearview mirror, Bleacher Report NFL analysts Gary Davenport, Brad Gagnon and Brent Sobleski have gathered to sort out how the week's happenings affected the pecking order.
There's a new team in the top five, plenty of shake-up in the top 10, and someone finally took a last-place vote away from the Miami Dolphins.
The only constant in the NFL is change.
32. Miami Dolphins (0-6)
Last Week: 32
Week 7 Result: Lost at Buffalo 31-21
It hasn't been easy to find nice things to write about the Miami Dolphins. Not only is the team winless, but also, it has been blown out in more games than not.
That wasn't the case in Week 7. Propelled by a solid effort from veteran quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, the Dolphins led 14-9 at halftime and got within three points of the Bills late in the fourth quarter.
But then, in possibly the most Dolphins moment of the season, the ensuing onside kick attempt was scooped up by Buffalo safety Micah Hyde and taken in for a decisive touchdown.
An argument can be made that the play was a blessing in disguise. The reality is that these Dolphins are a terrible football team. The last thing the organization needs is to louse up its draft position by doing something pointless like winning a game.
31. Cincinnati Bengals (0-7)
Last Week: 31
Week 7 Result: Lost vs. Jacksonville 27-17
For much of the 2019 season, the Dolphins looked like the runaway choice as the worst team.
The Cincinnati Bengals are making a pretty good case for consideration. Sunday in the Queen City, they did something even the Dolphins haven't—lost their seventh game of the season.
The Bungles were a hot mess from start to finish. They turned over the ball four times, including three Andy Dalton interceptions. One of those was returned for a touchdown—by defensive end Yannick Ngakoue.
Tailback Joe Mixon had 10 carries for two yards. This is the same player who led the AFC in rushing in 2018.
It's not just that the Bengals are bad. It's that every week they figure out a way to be worse than before.
It's quite the achievement given how low the team's gotten.
And with a trip to London to face the Los Angeles Rams next on the schedule, Week 8 should really be…something.
30. Washington Redskins (1-6)
Last Week: 30
Week 7 Result: Lost vs. San Francisco 9-0
In Bill Callahan's first game as interim head coach a week ago, the Washington Redskins got their first win of the season against Miami, arguably the NFL's worst team.
In Week 7, Washington hosted arguably the NFC's best team in the San Francisco 49ers, and it went…about like you'd expect.
At first glance, a nine-point loss to the undefeated Niners doesn't seem that bad. But the weather in D.C. did a much better job of slowing down San Francisco than Washington, which had just 154 yards of offense. Quarterback Case Keenum attempted just 12 passes for 77 yards.
It was a wet, ugly, sloppy mess of a football game.
That makes it a good metaphor for a disastrous 2019 campaign in the nation's capital.
29. Atlanta Falcons (1-6)
Last Week: 29
Week 7 Result: Lost vs. Los Angeles Rams 37-10
Given the Atlanta Falcons' miserable start to the 2019 season, there's been no shortage of speculation that head coach Dan Quinn's job is in serious jeopardy.
However, even though Atlanta got blown out at home by the Los Angeles Rams to fall to 1-6, team owner Arthur Blank said "I still support" Quinn and suggested no change is imminent, per Jeff Schulz of The Athletic.
If it wasn't bad enough that the Falcons got drilled Sunday, injury was added to insult. Quarterback Matt Ryan left in the second half with an ankle issue, and the 2016 NFL MVP was spotted in a walking boot after the game.
The only thing worse than a 1-6 football team is a 1-6 football team potentially being led by Matt Schaub into a Week 8 matchup with an angry Seahawks team.
28. New York Jets (1-5)
Last Week: 27
Week 7 Result: Lost vs. New England 33-0
Sam Darnold needs a hug. And a stiff drink. And maybe a shoulder to cry on.
To say that Darnold's effort against the New England Patriots was a disaster isn't entirely accurate, in that it would have had to be 67 percent better to have been a disaster. The second-year quarterback had the worst half of his pro career in the first 30 minutes, passing for all of 34 yards.
Oh, and Darnold turned it over five times: four interceptions and a lost fumble.
The game served as a stark reminder both that the Patriots remain the kings of the AFC East and that the Jets aren't a good football team. It also made New York's decisive Week 6 win against the Dallas Cowboys look all the more like an aberration.
The schedule eases up a bit after this with a road trip to Florida to face the Jacksonville Jaguars and Miami Dolphins. But unless Darnold plays a lot better than he did in Week 7, win No. 2 won't be coming any time soon.
We guess it could be worse. Luke Falk could still be taking snaps.
27. New York Giants (2-5)
Last Week: 26
Week 7 Result: Lost vs. Arizona 27-21
The honeymoon is over for Danny Dimes.
Rookie quarterback Daniel Jones took the Big Apple by storm when he peeled off wins in his first two games.
Since then, though, things have been…um…yeah.
In Sunday's defeat to the Arizona Cardinals, Jones passed for 223 yards and a touchdown with an interception and two lost fumbles. Over the G-Men's three-game losing streak, they have been outscored by an average of 15 points per contest, and Jones has played a significant part. He has just three touchdowns and seven turnovers over that span.
Now, some of this is to be expected—rookie quarterbacks often struggle with turning the ball over early in their careers. And injuries to New York's skill-position talent haven't made things easier.
But the excitement about Jones has been replaced by uncertainty—fear that maybe the No. 6 overall pick isn't the surefire franchise quarterback some were quick to anoint him as.
26. Denver Broncos (2-5)
Last Week: 23
Week 7 Result: Lost vs. Kansas City 30-6
Any momentum the Denver Broncos may have built over their recent two-game winning streak evaporated on Thursday night in a cloud of stink so nauseating that it's amazing the fans at Empower Field at Mile High didn't lose consciousness.
Despite the fact that the Kansas City Chiefs lost MVP quarterback Patrick Mahomes to a knee injury in the first half, the Broncos were blasted at home. They scored on their opening drive but could do nothing after that, managing just 205 yards of total offense against a defense that had struggled mightily in recent weeks.
Denver's offensive line was especially awful, allowing nine sacks—eight of Joe Flacco and one on the most ill-conceived fake punt in recent memory—to a team that had 11 over its first six games.
The 2019 Broncos are a lot like the 2018 Broncos, who were a lot like the 2017 Broncos.
That is most definitely not a compliment.
25. Los Angeles Chargers (2-5)
Last Week: 25
Week 7 Result: Lost at Tennessee 23-20
In the initial regular-season edition of the Bleacher Report consensus power rankings, the Los Angeles Chargers checked in at No. 11.
Those Chargers hit a new low in Sunday's loss to the Tennessee Titans. Looking at a 1st-and-goal from the 1-yard line and a potential game-winning touchdown after an Austin Ekeler score was reversed, L.A. gave the ball to tailback Melvin Gordon. He plunged forward for a touchdown—that was also reversed. So the Chargers gave it to Gordon again. He plunged forward...
It was a bizarre ending to a game in a season that has unraveled at a dizzying rate—partly due to injuries and partly due to the Chargers' uncanny ability to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.
"This team is just too depleted, and they're Chargering again after a ridiculous loss Sunday in Nashville," Gagnon said. "That's a bad combination. The Bolts have one win in regulation this season, and that came against the league's worst team. With Chicago and Green Bay on deck, their season might essentially be over in a matter of weeks. Gotta feel for Philip Rivers."
24. Tennessee Titans (3-4)
Last Week: 28
Week 7 Result: Won vs. Los Angeles Chargers 23-20
And so begins the reign of King Ryan the Mediocre, ruler of Nissan Stadium.
If Sunday's win over the Chargers is any indication, we may have seen the last of Marcus Mariota as the starting quarterback for the Titans. In his first start for the team, Ryan Tannehill was a significant improvement as a passer, throwing for 312 yards and two scores with a quarterback rating of over 120.
The passing yardage was more than Mariota had in any of his six starts—three of which he didn't have a touchdown in.
Most importantly, the Titans got a win they desperately needed to maintain any relevance in the AFC South, even if the Chargers gift-wrapped it for them.
When Jameis Winston and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers come to town in Week 8, there isn't going to be a showdown between the first two picks in the 2015 draft.
And if Tannehill continues to move the offense and make players such as wide receiver Corey Davis—six catches for 80 yards and a score against the Bolts—look like actual NFL receivers, the next time we see Mariota on the playing field, he will be in a different uniform.
23. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-4)
Last Week: 24
Week 7 Result: Bye Week
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are nearing a crossroads.
Sitting at 2-4, it looks like they are headed toward yet another disappointing season. In the four-plus campaigns since selecting Jameis Winston with the first pick of the 2015 draft, the Bucs have won more than six games once. It doesn't appear they will in 2019 either.
Since 2015, no quarterback has more turnovers than Winston, who piled on a jaw-dropping six in the loss to the Carolina Panthers in Week 6. It's the story of his career—for every highlight-reel throw, there's been a backbreaking mistake.
The time is coming when the Buccaneers are going to have to decide whether Winston is the future in Tampa. Sadly, it's a question they already know the answer to.
All they have to do is look at the present and recent past to see that he is not.
22. Jacksonville Jaguars (3-4)
Last Week: 22
Week 7 Result: Won at Cincinnati 27-17
After dropping two close games to a pair of teams that now have a combined record of 10-3 (the Carolina Panthers and New Orleans Saints), the Jacksonville Jaguars were in danger of falling into irrelevance in the AFC South.
However, you aren't going to out-irrelevant the Bengals, and the host team was more than happy to help the Jags get back on track.
Jacksonville quarterback Gardner Minshew II didn't play well—the rookie completed less than half of his passes. But his team gouged Cincinnati's terrible run defense to the tune of 216 yards on 44 carries. The Jags also took advantage of four turnovers—including one they returned for a touchdown.
They will now host a one-win New York Jets team next week in a game that could get them back to .500 ahead of a crucial divisional matchup with the Houston Texans in London.
By Jacksonville's Week 10 bye, we'll know whether a second-half push is a legitimate possibility.
21. Pittsburgh Steelers (2-4)
Last Week: 20
Week 7 Result: Bye Week
The Pittsburgh Steelers are likely to miss the playoffs for a second straight season. The team has been unable to stay healthy, with defensive end Stephon Tuitt joining quarterback Ben Roethlisberger as key contributors with season-ending injuries.
But to their credit, the Steelers aren't going down without a fight.
Led by rookie sensation Devin Bush, the Pittsburgh defense put forth a dominant effort in the Week 6 win over the Chargers in L.A. The offense will have backup Mason Rudolph (who cleared concussion protocol) returning under center when the Steelers host the Miami Dolphins in Week 8.
This banged-up team might not be good enough to get into the postseason, but so long as it keeps playing defense at a high level and running the ball well, it can play the role of spoiler in the second half of 2019.
Misery, as they say, loves company.
20. Oakland Raiders (3-3)
Last Week: 18
Week 7 Result: Lost at Green Bay 42-24
The Oakland Raiders entered Week 7 coming off a bye and with a chance to send a real message by beating a team that made the playoffs last year for a third game in a row.
Instead, they got Aaron Rodgers-ed.
It's not that Oakland played poorly per se—rookie tailback Josh Jacobs had 124 rushing yards, and quarterback Derek Carr threw for almost 300 yards and posted a passer rating of over 115. But Oakland's defense was shredded by Aaron Rodgers to the tune of 429 passing yards and six total touchdowns.
It was a sobering reminder that while the Raiders have made real progress, they still have a ways to go...especially on defense.
"The 3-2 Raiders were indeed big phonies," Gagnon quipped. "That dud coming off a bye week is exactly what bad teams do. The defense remains far too big a liability for Oakland to excel, even if the rest of the AFC West is trying hard to keep the Raiders in contention."
The Raiders are still in second place in a bad AFC West, 1.5 games back of the Chiefs. But another stiff test awaits in Week 8 with a trip to Houston to face the 4-3 Texans.
19. Cleveland Browns (2-4)
Last Week: 21
Week 7 Result: Bye Week
After an offseason that was overflowing with equal parts hype and hope, the first six weeks of the 2019 campaign have been a cold, hard dose of reality for the Cleveland Browns.
The offensive line has been atrocious. Per Football Outsiders, the team ranks 19th in run blocking and 24th in pass protection.
Quarterback Baker Mayfield has regressed significantly in his second season. He leads the NFL with 11 interceptions, and his completion percentage (56.6) and passer rating (66.0) are way down relative to his rookie season.
A team that can't afford to make mistakes keeps making them. Cleveland's turnover differential of minus-six is the fifth-worst in the league. The Browns had piled up an NFL-leading 506 yards in penalties prior to Week 7.
Add it all up, and reality is that they aren't nearly as good as many hoped before the season.
18. Philadelphia Eagles (3-4)
Last Week: 14
Week 7 Result: Lost at Dallas 37-10
Per the Sunday Night Football telecast in Week 7, over the past two decades or so, teams that start the season 4-3 make the playoffs about 51 percent of the time. Start 3-4, and that number free-falls to about 15 percent.
Given how the Philadelphia Eagles looked in what might have been the worst loss of Doug Pederson's time as head coach, those odds seem more like 1.5 percent.
The offense was scattershot and committed four turnovers. The defense was nonexistent. It was a miserable performance that left cornerback Orlando Scandrick, who has since been cut by the team, offering a blunt assessment.
"S--t, you are what you are. We're a bad team right now," Scandrick said, per Zach Berman of The Athletic. "We're not playing good."
It was the second straight blowout loss the Eagles have suffered over a brutal six-game stretch. With a trip to Buffalo to face the one-loss Bills next, there is real danger the 2019 season could get away from them.
17. Arizona Cardinals (3-3-1)
Last Week: 19
Week 7 Result: Won at New York Giants 27-21
It looks like the Arizona Cardinals might be onto something.
After going winless over the first four weeks of the Kliff Kingsbury/Kyler Murray era, they have peeled off three wins in a row to make it back to .500. They have now won as many games as they did all of last season and are .500 or better this late in the campaign for the first time since 2016.
Kingsbury's offense and Murray's scrambling ability are proving problematic for opposing defenses. Young tailback Chase Edmonds, 23, has given Arizona another weapon. And while the defense remains a work in progress, the team played maybe its best game in that regard against the Giants.
"Kingsbury found a successful formula," Sobleski said. "Instead of placing the onus on Murray, Kingsbury is spreading the field in 10 personnel (one running back, no tight ends and four wide receivers) to run the ball against light boxes. The Cardinals have averaged 174.7 rushing yards per contest during their three-game winning streak."
They have to feel good about where they are at this point in the season, but they are about to be tested.
In Week 8, they travel to face the one-loss Saints before following that up with a home date against the 49ers, the lone undefeated team in the NFC.
Even a split of those two games would be a win of sorts.
16. Detroit Lions (2-3-1)
Last Week: 15
Week 7 Result: Lost vs. Minnesota 42-30
The Detroit Lions are at a crossroads.
The Lions are not a bad football team. Detroit beat the Philadelphia Eagles and gave the Kansas City Chiefs and Green Bay Packers all they could handle.
But after losing last-second heartbreakers to the Chiefs and Packers, the Lions gave up over 500 total yards of offense in a home loss to the Minnesota Vikings. A 2-0-1 start has turned into 2-3-1, and the Lions are once again mired in last place in the NFC North.
All is not lost—next week the Lions host the 2-5 New York Giants, and the week after that presents a winnable game with the 3-3 Oakland Raiders. Rattle off a couple of wins, and the Lions can get back into consideration as a contender for at least a wild-card spot.
But the margin for error is gone. Any positive momentum the team had built up has been squandered. And given Detroit's history of failure and futility, we aren't holding our breath that the Lions will turn it around.
15. Carolina Panthers (4-2)
Last Week: 16
Week 7 Result: Bye Week
This isn't exactly the situation the Carolina Panthers expected to find themselves in as they hit their bye week.
After dropping their first two games, the Panthers were forced to replace an injured Cam Newton at quarterback with second-year pro Kyle Allen. It appeared that things were spiraling out of control in Charlotte.
Since then, all Allen has done is reel off four straight wins, throwing for 901 yards and seven touchdowns without an interception. In fact, dating back to last year, Allen has yet to either throw a pick or lose a game. His passer rating in 2019 is a robust 106.6.
Allen doesn't deserve all the credit for Carolina's turnaround. Entering Week 7, tailback Christian McCaffrey led the NFL with 618 rushing yards. The Panthers pass rush led the league with 27 sacks.
A team that was left for dead by many after that 0-2 start now looks like the only real threat to the New Orleans Saints in the NFC South.
The question now is what the Panthers will do when Newton is healthy enough to play again.
14. Dallas Cowboys (4-3)
Last Week: 17
Week 7 Result: Won vs. Philadelphia 37-10
After dropping three games in a row, the Dallas Cowboys were in dire need of a victory heading into Sunday night's huge NFC East showdown with the rival Eagles.
The Cowboys got that win—in emphatic fashion.
There wasn't much that didn't go well for them in Week 7. Tailback Ezekiel Elliott piled up 147 yards from scrimmage and a touchdown. Quarterback Dak Prescott was efficient throwing the ball and accounted for two scores (one through the air, one on the ground). The Dallas defense gave up just 283 total yards and notched four takeaways.
It was a big win, but Davenport is still a bit skeptical about the Star.
"Sunday's win was the Cowboys' most impressive of the season," he said. "But Dallas still hasn't beaten a team with a winning record, and the combined mark of the teams they have defeated is 6-21. Until I see the Cowboys beat a team like Minnesota (Week 10) or New England (Week 12), I can't lump the Cowboys in with the best teams in the NFC. Not yet."
13. Chicago Bears (3-3)
Last Week: 10
Week 7 Result: Lost vs. New Orleans 36-25
The Chicago Bears are officially in trouble.
There's no shame in losing a game to the New Orleans Saints. Even without Drew Brees, the Saints are one of the NFL's best teams. But getting pasted at home (it was 36-10 in the fourth quarter) after having an extra week to get ready for the game is another matter.
To say that the Bears are having issues offensively is an understatement. In Mitchell Trubisky's first game back from injury, he had fewer than 100 passing yards into the final quarter. Chicago had seven carries for 17 yards on the ground—for the game.
Last year, the Bears masked their offensive deficiencies with big plays and defensive touchdowns. Those plays haven't been there in 2019, and the offense has taken another step backward.
"The Bears are still a great defensive football team," Davenport said, "but the offense is in complete disarray. Chicago looks like the No. 3 team in the NFC North right now, and you could make a case that the Lions are a more balanced club."
12. Los Angeles Rams (4-3)
Last Week: 13
Week 7 Result: Won at Atlanta 37-10
After dropping three games in a row (including a pair of embarrassing losses at home), the Los Angeles Rams desperately needed to get things back on track.
Luckily for them, the Atlanta Falcons were more than happy to oblige.
This isn't to say that all is now well in La-La Land. Far from it—against one of the worst defenses in the league, the Rams managed just 90 rushing yards on 36 carries. Quarterback Jared Goff threw for 268 yards and two scores, but that's just a so-so effort given how bad the Falcons are against the pass.
However, the Rams did what they needed to do—blow out an inferior opponent and end their skid.
The Rams have a chance to get a little momentum going—starting with next week's tilt with the winless Bengals, the Rams' next three opponents have a combined record of 5-14.
But with the 49ers rolling along at 6-0, the Rams also have very little margin for error.
11. Houston Texans (4-3)
Last Week: 6
Week 7 Result: Lost at Indianapolis 30-23
The Houston Texans are nearly impossible to figure out.
Last week in Kansas City, the Texans looked like one of the best teams in the league, roaring back from a 17-3 deficit to stun the Chiefs at Arrowhead. Sunday in Indianapolis, the Texans looked like a good team. Quite possibly a playoff team.
But not a great team.
In a close game against a division rival with first place on the line, the Texans made too many mistakes. The offense turned it over twice and went just 4-of-12 on third down. The defense allowed 383 total yards, four touchdown passes and a 50 percent conversion percentage on third down.
Those are numbers that will get you beat by good teams.
"Every time I get at all comfortable about the idea of the Texans as a Super Bowl contender," Davenport said, "the team does something that shakes that confidence. I'm not saying the Texans aren't a good team—they have the talent to beat any team in the NFL in a given week. But I don't know that I trust them to be able to pull off three or four wins in a row over quality opponents—and that's what it takes to win the Super Bowl."
"Just when everyone started to think the Texans were counted among the AFC's elite, the Colts proved otherwise," he said. "Unfortunately, Houston's protection issues came roaring back with Watson sacked three times and hit six times in total. Until proven otherwise, the Texans are a fringe playoff contender."
10. Seattle Seahawks (5-2)
Last Week: 5
Week 7 Result: Lost vs. Baltimore 30-16
That the Seattle Seahawks are 5-2 after seven games isn't all that surprising.
That the two losses both occurred inside the usually friendly confines of CenturyLink Field is.
The problems that have dogged the Seahawks much of the season were plainly evident Sunday afternoon against the Baltimore Ravens. Seattle's defense had no answer for Baltimore's ground game, surrendering 199 rushing yards and 5.7 yards per attempt.
Seattle's ground game wasn't as successful. The Seahawks struggled at the point of attack, managing just 106 rushing yards for the game—over 20 yards less than the team's season average.
The Seahawks are a good football team. But the defense and offensive line have been up-and-down, and Sunday's setback coupled with San Francisco's win in Washington dropped the Seahawks two games back in the loss column in the NFC West.
With a pair of winnable games against NFC South teams next up, the Seahawks will have a good chance to right the ship. But a Week 10 road game against the 49ers has hit must-win status for Seattle to win the division.
9. Buffalo Bills (5-1)
Last Week: 8
Week 7 Result: Won vs. Miami 31-21
There was good news and bad news for the Buffalo Bills in Week 7.
The bad news was that the Bills were out-performed in a number of statistical categories by a winless Miami Dolphins team. Miami had more first downs. The Dolphins out-gained the Bills by 76 yards. Miami converted seven of 13 third-down tries against a usually stout Buffalo defense.
The good news is that none of that mattered. Thanks to two Dolphins turnovers and a return score on an onside kick return, the Bills picked up a 10-point win and moved to 5-1 on the season.
That's right—the Buffalo Bills are 5-1.
"Sometimes good football teams have to gut out a win when they haven't played the cleanest of games," Davenport said. "That the Bills were able to do that Sunday is another sign of the team's maturation. Quarterback Josh Allen also quietly had a very nice game, which might be an even better sign. If the Bills are going to make any noise in January, Allen is going to have to make some plays with his arm."
"The Bills sit near the top of the AFC rankings almost by default," Sobleski added. "Right now, the conference consists of the New England Patriots and everyone else. Buffalo's schedule may be weak, but the team is doing what it's supposed to do by winning the games it is supposed to win."
8. Kansas City Chiefs (5-2)
Last Week: 7
Week 7 Result: Won at Denver 30-6
It's not that often that an NFL team's season almost goes down the tubes in a blowout win. But that's nearly what happened when Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes crumpled to the ground in a heap on Thursday night.
It looks like Kansas City may have dodged the proverbial bullet, though. Per ESPN's Adam Schefter, Mahomes dislocated his kneecap against the Broncos, but an MRI on Friday revealed that there was no additional damage. Mahomes will reportedly miss at least a few games, but the injury isn't believed to be season-ending.
Still, one of our analysts thinks that while Kansas City's season may not be over, its chances of advancing to Super Bowl LIV are.
"I'll say it," Davenport wrote. "The Chiefs are finished as a Super Bowl contender. Mahomes may well be back in a few weeks, but his scrambling ability is going to be significantly hampered for the rest of the year. We just saw the Chiefs drop two straight while Mahomes hobbled around on a bad ankle. The 2018 MVP just isn't the same player when robbed of his ability to improvise, and that ability is not coming back any time soon. It didn't matter against an awful Denver team…but it will against teams like Houston, Baltimore and New England."
Another is a bit more optimistic.
"Kudos to the Chiefs for a 30-6 victory over the Broncos in a game where superstar quarterback Patrick Mahomes suffered a dislocated kneecap," Sobleski said. "Granted, the Broncos stink, but the Chiefs were good enough to overcome Mahomes' injury in the short term. The next two weeks without Mahomes will be especially difficult, though, with upcoming contests against the Green Bay Packers and Minnesota Vikings. As a result, things could get a little worse before they get better in Kansas City."
7. Minnesota Vikings (5-2)
Last Week: 11
Week 7 Result: Won at Detroit 42-30
It's time to start taking the Minnesota Vikings seriously.
For the second week in a row, the Vikings notched a decisive win against a good team. This time it was a 12-point win against Detroit in which the Vikings put up 42 points and posted a jaw-dropping 503 yards of total offense.
That offensive juggernaut has been balanced of late, too. After racking up 142 yards and two scores on 25 carries Sunday, tailback Dalvin Cook leads the NFL with 725 rushing yards. Quarterback Kirk Cousins had another huge outing, passing for 337 yards and four touchdowns.
It's the latter who has impressed Davenport of late.
"Cousins caught a lot of flak early in the season—and with good reason," he said. "But he's been red-hot the last few weeks, and with both the running and passing games firing on all cylinders, the Vikings look less like a paper tiger and more like a legit contender in the NFC."
"Don't look now, but the Vikings are in an offensive groove," Sobleski wrote. "The following are Kirk Cousins' stats over the last three games: 75.6 completion percentage, 976 yards, 10 touchdowns and only one interception. Obviously, the quarterback took Adam Thielen's earlier complaints to heart and decided to take more chances down the field."
6. Baltimore Ravens (5-2)
Last Week: 9
Week 7 Result: Won at Seattle 30-16
The most impressive victory of Week 7 belongs to the Baltimore Ravens, who took the Seahawks to the woodshed.
It wasn't a pretty day for Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson throwing the ball—he hit just nine of 20 pass attempts for 143 yards. But Jackson—as he's done so often this year—was unstoppable on the ground. For the third time this season, Jackson topped 100 rushing yards, and the second-year quarterback now ranks sixth in the league in rushing yards.
Baltimore's beleaguered defense came up big, too. The Ravens remain a bottom-five defense in terms of yards allowed per play, but the team got a pair of defensive scores in Week 7—including a pick-six from new arrival Marcus Peters.
"Sunday was statement day for the Ravens," Davenport said. "The Ravens are running away with the AFC North, but in beating Seattle soundly the Ravens demonstrated that their sights are set quite a bit higher than just a division title. Say, maybe a trip to Miami in February."
5. Indianapolis Colts (4-2)
Last Week: 12
Week 7 Result: Won vs. Houston 30-23
There's little question that the undefeated New England Patriots are the team to beat in the AFC. But when Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes went down with a dislocated kneecap, the title of second-best team in the conference became up for grabs.
Sunday against the Houston Texans, the Indianapolis Colts (who beat Mahomes and the Chiefs two weeks ago) made a pretty good case that they should slot behind the Pats in the conference.
On a day when the Colts struggled to run the ball, it was quarterback Jacoby Brissett who carried the team to victory. Brissett had his best game of what's quickly becoming a breakout season, topping 300 passing yards and throwing four touchdown passes.
Gagnon isn't sure Brissett can repeat those numbers every week. But he is sure that these Colts are for real.
"If Jacoby Brissett is becoming a franchise quarterback," he wrote, "the Colts could be playing deep into January. But even if Brissett's standout Week 7 performance was an anomaly, Indy has the depth and talent to at least play games in the new year. They've proven that time and again, and intangibly they're mentally tough and extremely well-coached. Hard not to like this team."
4. Green Bay Packers (6-1)
Last Week: 4
Week 7 Result: Won vs. Oakland 42-24
Over the first six games of the 2019 season, the Green Bay Packers were winning, but without many big performances from quarterback Aaron Rodgers. He had topped 300 passing yards just once and hadn't thrown three touchdown passes in a game this season. Rodgers had eight scoring strikes over the season's first six contests.
In Week 7, Rodgers woke up—and then some.
Rodgers didn't just have his best game of 2019 in an 18-point home win over the Oakland Raiders. He had one of the best games of his career—429 passing yards, five scores, no picks and a perfect passer rating of 158.3 for the first time in his career.
Oh, and he ran for a touchdown too.
"The offense hasn't been consistent, but it looks like it's finally heating up and that talented defense has rebounded from a poor performance a few weeks ago against Philadelphia," Gagnon wrote. "If Aaron Rodgers is finally taking off, the Packers will be a Super Bowl-caliber team."
"The Packers were already one of the most dangerous teams in the NFC," Davenport added. "The run game's better and the defense is light-years better than last year's team. If you add Rodgers' ability to explode like he did Sunday in any given week to that mixture, you get a legitimate Super Bowl contender in the NFC—and maybe even the conference's best team."
3. San Francisco 49ers (6-0)
Last Week: 3
Week 7 Result: Won at Washington 9-0
The San Francisco 49ers didn't exactly pile up the style points in their Week 7 win over the Washington Redskins.
That can be forgiven, though—given that the teams were playing in a typhoon.
In weather conditions that can best be described as, um, moist, the San Francisco defense was once again outstanding Sunday. The 49ers allowed just 154 yards of total offense and held Case Keenum under 100 passing yards.
That marks the third straight game in which the Niners have held their opponent under 200 yards of total offense and 100 net passing yards. Over that three-week span, the 49ers have given up a grand total of 10 points.
"At some point, the 49ers are going to have to make plays in the passing game to get a win," Davenport said, "and Jimmy Garoppolo might just be the team's Achilles' heel. But with that stifling defense and one of the NFL's best rushing attacks, the Niners are playing as well as any team in the NFL right now. It's an amazing turnaround for a team that was 4-12 just last year."
2. New Orleans Saints (6-1)
Last Week: 2
Week 7 Result: Won at Chicago 36-25
The New Orleans Saints are rolling.
Since Drew Brees went down with an injured thumb, all the Saints have done is peel off five wins in a row—with the latest being a 36-25 win over the Chicago Bears that wasn't as close as the final score indicates. The streak includes wins over the Bears, Dallas Cowboys and Seattle Seahawks. Two of those victories (including Sunday's) came on the road.
It's not just that Teddy Bridgewater has played well, although he certainly has—nine touchdowns, two interceptions and a passer rating of almost 100. With Alvin Kamara on the shelf, veteran tailback Latavius Murray gouged the Bears for 119 yards on 27 carries. The defense has played lights-out football.
And now Brees hopes to be back for Week 8.
"The Bears hadn't allowed 30-plus defensive points in regulation since November 2017 before the Saints walked into Chicago and put up 34 on offense without their stars at quarterback and running back," Gagnon said. "They're just rolling without Drew Brees, which should have them in a position to make a deep playoff run when Brees returns."
1. New England Patriots (7-0)
Last Week: 1
Week 7 Result: Won at New York Jets 33-0
Sometimes, it just doesn't seem fair.
From the moment the New England Patriots took the opening kickoff and drove the length of the field for a touchdown, there was never a shred of doubt the defending champions would take care of the New York Jets and move to 7-0 on the season.
With the Pats continuing to battle injuries at the skill positions, it was the run game and defense that carried them to victory. Young running back Sony Michel scored a trio of touchdowns, while the defense continued to pile up big plays at an astounding rate.
For the game, the Patriots allowed just 154 total yards. New England picked off New York quarterback Sam Darnold four times, turned the young signal-caller over again on a strip-sack and notched a safety when he bobbled a snap. Linebacker Kyle Van Noy was an ankle-graze away from returning the fumble for a score.
"Say what you will about New England's soft schedule," Davenport said. "The defense is playing as well as any team in the league, and last I checked, New England has the best quarterback who ever played under center. This team is nigh impossible to beat now. Once it gets the downfield weapons healthy, it's just going to be that much harder."
Those weapons aren't healthy yet, but after the addition of veteran wideout Mohamed Sanu in a trade with the Atlanta Falcons, they are better.
Like we said, sometimes it just doesn't seem fair.