NFL Power Rankings: B/R's Expert Consensus Rank for Every Team Entering Week 8October 27, 2020
NFL Power Rankings: B/R's Expert Consensus Rank for Every Team Entering Week 8
Things are really getting interesting in the NFL.
Week 7 of the 2020 season brought with it a couple of big games. In Nashville, the AFC's remaining undefeated teams locked horns, with the Tennessee Titans mounting a furious comeback after falling behind early against the Pittsburgh Steelers but coming up just short.
The Steelers are now the last team in the league without a blemish. That's because the Arizona Cardinals erased a 10-point fourth-quarter deficit to stun the previously unbeaten Seattle Seahawks in overtime.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers kept rolling in Las Vegas. Ditto for the Green Bay Packers in Houston. There were wild finishes in Atlanta and Cincinnati. A stunning blowout in New England. And the New York Jets—well, they are still terrible.
As is the case every week, Bleacher Report NFL Analysts Brent Sobleski, Brad Gagnon and Gary Davenport have gathered to sift through a wild of action and rank the league's teams from back to front.
Let's get rolling by starting off with a two-fer of putrid pigskin purveyors in the Big Apple.
32. New York Jets (0-7)
Last Week: 32
Week 7 Result: Lost vs. Buffalo 18-10
For just a moment, it appeared as though the Jets might try to win a game. With young quarterback Sam Darnold back from his shoulder injury, the team raced out to a 10-0 lead over a two-loss Buffalo Bills team.
However, at some point the Jets remembered they are awful, and Gang Green didn't score another point the rest of the game.
But hey, New York held the Bills to six field goals, so that's something, right?
The Jets really are a terrible football team. Against a Bills defense that surrendered nearly 250 yards on the ground to the Kansas City Chiefs, the Jets managed 190 total yards. Darnold barely completed over half of his passes for 120 yards and two picks.
At one point, Darnold was 10-of-11 for 107 yards. He finished 12-of-23.
This Jets team is legitimately 0-16 bad. The franchise appears to be on a collision course with the No. 1 overall pick in 2021.
And Darnold's days as the starting quarterback appear to be numbered.
31. New York Giants (1-6)
Last Week: 30
Week 7 Result: Lost at Philadelphia 22-21
Daniel Jones' 80-yard run is a perfect microcosm of the New York Giants in 2020.
Early in the second half against the Philadelphia Eagles, Jones kept the ball on a zone-read and was off to the races...until he tripped and fell on the 8-yard line. The Giants scored a few plays later to take a 14-10 lead and led 21-10 with less than five minutes to go, but then it was the team's turn to trip as it allowed two late touchdowns and snatched defeat from the jaws of victory.
To be blunt, the Giants are terrible. Jones has regressed badly in his second season. The team's best offensive player (running back Saquon Barkley) is out for the year with a torn ACL. The offensive line in porous. The defense is soft. The only thing stopping the Giants from contention as the league's worst team is the fact that the Jets exist.
If there's a bright side, at least the Giants didn't louse up their draft position by messing around and winning a game.
30. Jacksonville Jaguars (1-6)
Last Week: 29
Week 7 Result: Lost at Los Angeles Chargers 39-29
Minshew Mania may be nearing its end.
Sunday's loss to the Los Angeles Chargers was Jacksonville's sixth in a row. Heading into the game, Ian Rapoport of NFL Network wrote that Gardner Minshew II could be playing for his job.
"The media darling who has become a cult hero in Jacksonville thanks to his mustache, quick wit and propensity for jorts could find himself replaced by backup Mike Glennon. At one point, it appeared Minshew may be the QB of the future in Jacksonville. Much of that is in doubt now, unless he can play his way out of it."
Minshew threw a pair of touchdowns, but he also completed just 14 of 27 passes. The former Washington State star may be a fan favorite, but the cold reality is that the Jaguars aren't winning with him under center.
And whether or not he gets benched now, one has to think the Jags will make a change in the offseason, especially with the team looking at a high pick in 2021.
29. Atlanta Falcons (1-6)
Last Week: 28
Week 7 Result: Lost vs. Detroit 23-22
The Atlanta Falcons have become masters of losing football games in 2020.
The team has already blown leads both big and small. Gotten coach Dan Quinn fired. But in Week 7, the Falcons went next-level, losing by scoring a touchdown.
Down 16-14, the team had the ball deep in Detroit territory late in the game. All Atlanta had to do was grind the clock down to nothing, kick a field goal and go home.
Instead, running back Todd Gurley went too far and scored. That put Atlanta up six but left the Lions just over a minute to drive the length of the field and score on the last play.
It was the most Atlanta loss ever.
At 1-6, the Falcons look like a team staring at a potential fire sale in 2020 and a rebuild under a new coach and general manager in 2021.
And frankly, a win over Detroit in Week 7 wouldn't have changed that.
"How bad is Atlanta this year? One stat explains everything," Sobleski said. "The Falcons already lost three games in which the team had a win probability of 98 percent or better. 'Nuff said."
28. Houston Texans (1-6)
Last Week: 27
Week 7 Result: Lost vs. Green Bay 35-20
As the defeats pile up for the Houston Texans, frustration is growing in the locker room. Per ESPN's Sarah Barshop, both quarterback Deshaun Watson and defensive end J.J. Watt have just about had it with the losing.
"S--t sucks, honestly," Watson said. "I mean, this is new to me, so I'm going through it just like everyone else. This is my first time experiencing something like this, so I'm just learning on the fly, trying to stay positive, continuing to lead the guys, continuing to come to work each and every day and try to improve and just trying to find ways to win."
"We're 1-6," Watt said. "You are what your record says you are."
Mind you, this is the team that won the AFC South last year and was up 24-0 on the Kansas City Chiefs in the playoffs. Now the franchise is falling apart, coach/general manager Bill O'Brien has been fired and Watt's named has surfaced in trade speculation.
At least Texans fans can look forward to watching the Miami Dolphins use their team's 2021 first-round draft pick acquired in the Laremy Tunsil deal.
That should be fun.
27. Minnesota Vikings (1-5)
Last Week: 26
Week 7 Result: Bye Week
The Minnesota Vikings threw in the towel.
In August, the Vikings sent two picks to the Jaguars for edge-rusher Yannick Ngakoue. With Danielle Hunter placed on injured reserve with a neck injury before the start of the season, Ngakoue was going to anchor a pass rush that would hopefully help get the Vikes back in the postseason.
Last week, with Minnesota mired at 1-5 and the playoffs looking like a pipe dream, the Vikings dealt Ngakoue to the Baltimore Ravens for two draft selections.
According to Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports, Ngakoue may not be the only player leaving Minneapolis. The team is mulling a fire sale at the Nov. 3 trade deadline, but one rival GM said that he's not sure teams are interested in buying what the Vikings are selling.
"They want to move on from some guys for sure but not the guys we want," a GM said. "They want to cut payroll, but I don't know how successful they'll be with that."
That's the kind of year it's been in the Twin Cities.
26. Dallas Cowboys (2-5)
Last Week: 20
Week 7 Result: Lost at Washington 25-3
The Dallas Cowboys found a new nadir Sunday in the nation's capital.
Getting pasted by a terrible Washington team is infinitely worse than getting beaten handily at home by the Cardinals.
Everything that could go wrong has. For the seventh time in as many games, Dallas started a different combination of offensive linemen. Said linemen were, well, offensive. Washington piled up six sacks, the Cowboys managed just 3.2 yards per rushing attempt and Dallas finished with only 142 yards of offense.
Add in that backup quarterback Andy Dalton suffered a concussion on a vicious hit from linebacker Jon Bostic, and things have gotten about as bad as they possibly can in Big D.
This team was supposed to contend for the Super Bowl. Instead, Dallas is in third place in the league's worst division, and according to Jane Slater of NFL Network, some players are not too fond of head coach Mike McCarthy and his staff.
"They just aren't good at their jobs," one player reportedly said.
OK, so maybe things can still get worse.
25. Denver Broncos (2-4)
Last Week: 23
Week 7 Result: Lost vs. Kansas City 43-16
When the Denver Broncos upset the Patriots in New England in Week 6, it appeared as though the franchise was establishing positive momentum.
Then again, maybe not.
Possibly no play embodied Denver's blowout loss to the Chiefs more than the second-half unsportsmanlike conduct penalty from defensive end Shelby Harris that resulted in a sideline shouting match between the player and head coach Vic Fangio.
"People outside of the locker room will react to what they see and what they hear," veteran safety Justin Simmons said after the game, per Sean Keeler of the Denver Post. "But the reality is, when you’re a family, you fight. You get frustrated ... no one's above emotion. Especially when you're in the heat of the moment."
It was an ugly moment in an ugly game for the Broncos. And it was a painful reminder that while the team has made progress, it still has a long way to go to become a contender.
24. Cincinnati Bengals (1-5-1)
Last Week: 25
Week 7 Result: Lost vs. Cleveland 37-34
Fans of the Cincinnati Bengals are accustomed to disappointment. But even by those standards, the past couple of weeks have been hard to swallow.
Last week against the Indianapolis Colts, the Bengals raced out to a 21-0 lead only to eventually fall 31-27. At home against the Cleveland Browns on Sunday, rookie quarterback Joe Burrow topped 400 passing yards and threw a go-ahead touchdown to running back Giovani Bernard with just over a minute left.
And again, the Bengals lost.
While Cincinnati has just one win, Davenport sees room for optimism in the Queen City.
"There's still a lot of work to do," he said. "The offensive line continues to struggle, and the defense needs a front-to-back makeover. But Joe Burrow continues to show on a weekly basis that if the Bengals build a decent team around him, he's going to start racking up wins. The…kid…is…legit."
23. Washington Football Team (2-5)
Last Week: 31
Week 7 Result: Won vs. Dallas 25-3
The Washington Football team is a half-game out of first place in the NFC East.
Why are you looking at us like that?
Washington played easily its best game of 2020 in throttling the reeling Cowboys on Sunday. Rookie running back Antonio Gibson gashed Dallas for 128 yards on 20 carries. Quarterback Kyle Allen threw two touchdowns and recorded a passer rating north of 110. Wide receiver Terry McLaurin caught seven passes for 90 yards and a touchdown.
Defensively, the team was even better. Washington allowed just 142 yards of total offense and a single field goal. The pass rush piled up six sacks and eight QB hits. And Dallas was just 3-of-12 on third down.
Frankly, the game probably says more about how terrible Dallas is. But it's still a week to celebrate for a fanbase that gets few opportunities to do that.
"I'm not about to crown Washington by any means, but Kyle Allen hasn't been horrible, and that defense might be the best unit in the terrible NFC East. Don't be surprised if the WFT winds up hosting a playoff game in January," Gagnon said.
22. Philadelphia Eagles (2-4-1)
Last Week: 24
Week 7 Result: Won vs. New York Giants 22-21
The fact that the Eagles are in first place in the NFC East at 2-4-1 tells you just about all you need to know about how terrible the division is.
On some level, the team deserves credit. Philadelphia has been ravaged by injuries, and the hits kept coming against the Giants. The Eagles got DeSean Jackson back just long enough for the veteran receiver to suffer an ankle fracture that is expected to cost him six-to-eight weeks.
This team is without its top two receivers. And its top two tight ends. And its top running back. And its offensive tackles. And its team doctor, who just quit after being overworked.
OK, that last one may be made up.
As bad as things are injury-wise, Philly actually has a puncher's chance at getting back to .500. In Week 8, the Eagles will face a Cowboys team that's been hit just as hard by injuries, and after their Week 9 bye, they will play the G-Men again.
21. Detroit Lions (3-3)
Last Week: 21
Week 7 Result: Won at Atlanta 23-22
Seven weeks into the 2020 season, the Detroit Lions are .500.
After outlasting the Falcons in one of Week 7's wildest games, the Lions sit at 3-3. That's good for just third place in the NFC North and leaves the team on the outside looking in at the postseason, but it's still better than most expected.
Sunday's win came courtesy of an improbable 75-yard drive with just over a minute left and no timeouts—a drive that left quarterback Matthew Stafford smiling from ear to ear.
He discussed the final moments of the game with Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press:
"We were up against the clock as good as you could be and guys made plays. I love doing that. That's my favorite part about playing the game. I love this game, I love competing and there's no more competitive, pressure-packed situation than whatever it was, (second)-and-goal from the (11)-yard line with no time left. I mean, that's what you live for as a quarterback."
The Lions' next task won't be easy. They face the 4-2 Colts at Ford Field in Week 8.
Sobleski isn't holding his breath that Detroit will get above .500 for the first time this year.
"Yes, the Lions are 3-3 and escaped with a victory against the ever-imploding Falcons," he said. "But Detroit only did so because Todd Gurley accidentally scored a touchdown when he should have gotten down to run out the clock. I just can't give much, or any, credit to Detroit for the Falcons' incomprehensible screwup."
20. New England Patriots (2-4)
Last Week: 16
Week 7 Result: Lost vs. San Francisco 33-6
The greatest dynasty in NFL history is dead.
After getting trounced by the San Francisco 49ers, the Patriots have dropped three consecutive games for the first time since 2002. Per Mark Daniels of the Providence Journal, the 27-point margin of defeat was the worst home loss of the Bill Belichick era and second-worst overall. The Pats lost two in a row at Gillette Stadium for the first time since 2008.
After throwing for just 98 yards and three interceptions, quarterback Cam Newton was benched for Jarrett Stidham. Newton has barely cracked 250 yards combined over the past two weeks to go with five picks and no touchdowns.
But while Newton has struggled, Davenport thinks that he's far from the team's only problem.
"The passing-game weapons in New England might be the worst in the NFL," he said. "The defense is starting to buckle under the strain of carrying the team. There's more than just one problem facing the Pats, and there isn't a magic bullet that will fix everything. This is a 6-10 team."
"Goodnight, Patriots dynasty," Gagnon added. "New England is now just 4-8 in its last 12 games (including playoffs), and it's been outscored 77-28 in three consecutive losses. It's hard to believe I'm saying this, but it's time for a rebuild in Foxborough."
19. Los Angeles Chargers (2-4)
Last Week: 22
Week 7 Result: Won vs. Jacksonville 39-29
Since taking over as the starting quarterback for the Los Angeles Chargers in Week 2, Justin Herbert has piled up the stats. However, there's one number that had alluded the sixth overall pick in this year's draft—his first victory.
Herbert torched the Jacksonville Jaguars for 347 yards and three scores, and as Doug Farrar wrote for Touchdown Wire, Herbert is off to a historic start to his professional career.
"Per NFL Research, Herbert became the only player since at least 1970 with more than 1,500 passing yards and a passer rating of over 100 over his first five career games," Farrar said.
Not bad at all.
The Chargers are still a work in progress. The defense and the offensive line will need significant improvements for L.A. to win consistently. But the Bolts appear to have knocked the switch from Philip Rivers to Herbert out of the park.
18. Carolina Panthers (3-4)
Last Week: 19
Week 7 Result: Lost at New Orleans 27-24
The Carolina Panthers are better than many expected. But it is still open for debate whether that means they are good.
The Panthers gave the New Orleans Saints all they could handle in Week 7, but as was the case in their other three losses, Carolina just couldn't seal the deal.
The team has at least been keeping games close. Only two of the Panthers games have been decided by double digits (one loss, one win), and only one was decided by more than 10.
Coming up short against the Saints to fall back below .500 was disappointing, but there's some good news on the horizon. According to ESPN (h/t CBS Sports), there's a chance that running back Christian McCaffrey, who has been sidelined since suffering a high ankle sprain in Week 2, will be able to return for Week 8 against the Falcons.
Getting the team's best offensive player back on the field would be a huge boost for a Panthers squad that's at least in the hunt for a wild-card spot in the NFC.
17. Las Vegas Raiders (3-3)
Last Week: 15
Week 7 Result: Lost vs. Tampa Bay 45-20
The Las Vegas Raiders have reached a turning point in their season.
Offensively, the Raiders have been relatively solid this season without having a marquee "go-to" receiver. But the Vegas defense's struggles continued Sunday, allowing 454 total yards to Tampa.
According to Ed Graney of the Las Vegas Review-Journal, head coach Jon Gruden indicated that changes could be coming defensively.
"We have to play better and we will," Gruden said. "It goes back to me. I'm not making excuses. I'm not going to say anything here today, but there are things we need to look at, and that process begins as soon as this press conference is over."
The Raiders are a good enough team to have beaten the Chiefs fairly handily at Arrowhead. And to have downed the Saints at home.
But unless the defensive production improves, Las Vegas will be relegated to fringe contender status.
"Sunday served as an important reminder that the Raiders are a deeply flawed team." Gagnon said. "They might hang around in the playoff race with an extra wild-card spot up for grabs, but the defense isn't good and I still don't totally trust Derek Carr."
16. San Francisco 49ers (4-3)
Last Week: 18
Week 7 Result: Won at New England 33-6
A couple weeks ago, many people just about wrote off the San Francisco 49ers. The team had been ravaged by injuries and had just been blown out at home by the Miami Dolphins. The injuries are still a major issue, with running back Jeff Wilson Jr. the latest to get banged up.
But after destroying the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium, the Niners are back above .500—just like every other team in the NFC West. Tight end George Kittle made it clear the team isn't going anywhere.
"It's fun to be part of a team with a bunch of psychopaths," Kittle told reporters. "I fit in really great here."
"It's been a weird year for the 49ers, but we clearly can't rule them out based on how resilient they've been," Gagnon said. "It takes a damn well-coached team to roll into Foxborough and dominate a Bill Belichick-coached squad that had its back against the wall. It continues to be an uphill battle due to injuries, but the 49ers have the ability to grab a playoff spot, and anything can happen from there."
15. Miami Dolphins (3-3)
Last Week: 17
Week 7 Result: Bye Week
It's the dawn of a new era in Miami.
Despite a 3-3 record that puts the Dolphins squarely in the mix in both the AFC East and the wild-card hunt, Miami somewhat surprisingly decided to make a switch at quarterback. When the Dolphins next take the field against the Los Angeles Rams in Week 8, rookie Tua Tagovailoa will be the starter under center.
The move raised eyebrows given how well Ryan Fitzpatrick had been playing, but head coach Brian Flores said it was the right time to make the move.
"We just felt like it was the best move for the team right now," he told reporters. "That's how we're going to move forward."
Given that making the switch at the bye gives Tagovailoa an extra week to prepare, there is a logic to the move. And while Fitzpatrick admittedly balled out for the Dolphins this year, he's not the future under center in Miami—Tagovailoa is.
Still, it's going to be interesting to see how things play out if Tagovailoa struggles and the team drops a couple games in a row.
"Miami's announcement of rookie Tua Tagavailoa taking over as the starter quarterback despite Ryan Fitzpatrick playing as well as he has throughout his career came as a surprise," Sobleski said. "Still, head coach Brian Flores said this year's fifth overall pick is ready to run the offense. That's all anyone needs to know. When an organization drafts a quarterback as high as Miami did, the entire team is on the young man's timetable, not the other way around."
14. Chicago Bears (5-2)
Last Week: 10
Week 7 Result: Lost at Los Angeles Rams 24-10
As Jason Lieser of the Chicago Sun-Times wrote, before Monday night's game, Chicago Bears head coach Matt Nagy bristled when asked if his team's 5-1 record had more to do with the quality of the opposition than the Bears themselves.
"We've already played some pretty good teams," Nagy said. "Whoever they put in front of us, we don't care what their record is."
In fairness, the Bears do own a win over the 5-2 Tampa Bay Buccaneers. But against the other two winning teams it has faced, Chicago is 0-2. And Monday's loss to the Los Angeles Rams was the Bears' worst game of the season.
This wasn't a 14-point game. Not really. Chicago's only touchdown came on an Eddie Jackson fumble return midway through the fourth quarter. The Bears sputtered offensively, as Nick Foles threw two interceptions and Chicago averaged 2.9 yards per pop on the ground.
"The Bears are the Colts of the NFC," Davenport said. "Or the Colts are the Bears of the AFC. I don't know. What I do know is neither of those teams are Super Bowl contenders. Not with those sad-sack offenses."
13. Cleveland Browns (5-2)
Last Week: 14
Week 7 Result: Won at Cincinnati 37-34
When Baker Mayfield missed on his first five passes with an interception in the first quarter against the Bengals on Sunday, it looked like the grumbles about his play of late were only going to get louder.
Over the last three quarters of a wild comeback win, though, Mayfield was essentially perfect. By game's end. Mayfield had thrown for 297 yards and five touchdowns—and the Browns were sitting at 5-2.
"He's such a competitor. He doesn't give up," Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski told reporters of Mayfield after the game. "He didn't back down. Every time I looked at him on the sidelines, he had that steely look in his eyes."
The Browns now sit one win shy of last year's total with the 2020 season not even halfway over. But the victory in Cincinnati came at a high cost. Odell Beckham Jr. suffered a season-ending ACL injury, per ESPN's Josina Anderson.
12. Indianapolis Colts (4-2)
Last Week: 11
Week 7 Result: Bye Week
The good news for the Indianapolis Colts coming out of the by week is that at 4-2, the team is in the thick of the playoff hunt.
The bad news is it hasn't been a pretty 4-2 run. They lost to the Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 1 and fell behind the Cincinnati Bengals 21-0 in Week 6.
One of the biggest problems for the Colts has been inconsistent play on offense. The team appeared to find a rhythm against the Bengals by going into hurry-up mode, and head coach Frank Reich said that we could see more of that moving forward in an effort to get quarterback Philip Rivers going.
"He does thrive in [the no-huddle]," Reich said, via Jim Ayello of the Indy Star. "I mean, I was with him for three years before, and we basically were no-huddle for three years to tell you the truth—for the better part of three years. We weren't always up-tempo, but we basically didn't huddle for three years."
Whatever it takes, the Colts have to get improved play on offense. After a trip to Detroit, they face a daunting three-game stretch that includes home dates with the Ravens and Packers and a trip to Nashville to face the Titans.
11. Los Angeles Rams (5-2)
Last Week: 13
Week 7 Result: Won vs, Chicago 24-10
After getting beaten handily by the San Francisco 49ers in Week 6, the Los Angeles Rams faced another big test Monday night against the 5-1 Chicago Bears—a chance to show that they (like seemingly every team in the NFC West) are a legitimate Super Bowl contender.
The Rams passed said test with flying colors.
Defensively, the Rams absolutely put the clamps on the Chicago Bears in a game that wasn't as close as the final score. The Bears surrendered just 279 yards of total offense, turned over the Bears twice, gave up less than 50 yards on the ground and didn't allow an offensive touchdown.
The offense did its part too. Going against Bears team that ranks toward the top of the league in both yards and points allowed, the Rams were efficient. Los Angeles racked up 165 yards rushing, averaging five yards a carry. Quarterback Jared Goff threw for 219 yards with two scores and a passer rating of 108.0.
It was an emphatic win that only solidified the NFC West as the best division in the NFL.
10. Buffalo Bills (5-2)
Last Week: 8
Week 7 Result: Won at New York Jets 18-10
A win is a win in the NFL, and the Buffalo Bills got a big one Sunday to stop a two-game skid.
The problem? It wasn't a big one on the scoreboard, despite playing a winless Jets team that is the stinkiest of stinky. As a matter of fact, the Bills actually spotted the Jets 10 points before peeling off six unanswered field goals.
That's right. Despite driving up and down the field at will and piling up 422 yards of offense, the Bills were held out of the end zone.
And in the opinion of one of the analysts here at Bleacher Report, that could mean trouble in Western New York.
"Over the first month of the season," Davenport said, "the Bills were an offensive juggernaut. But in the last three games, more than one flaw has become evident. Josh Allen hasn't been as sharp under center. The Bills can't run the ball well at all. Buffalo might be the best team in the AFC East, but the way they've looked of late, they are a tier behind the Steelers, Titans, Ravens and Chiefs."
"Three straight shaky performances should have Bills Mafia a little worried, but a 5-2 record is a 5-2 record," Sobleski countered. "Buffalo still holds a 1.5-game advantage in the AFC East. The Bills have an opportunity to finally punch the hated Patriots in the mouth this coming weekend and fully establish themselves as the team to beat in the division."
9. Arizona Cardinals (5-2)
Last Week: 12
Week 7 Result: Won vs. Seattle 37-34 (OT)
Sunday night's matchup between the Arizona Cardinals and Seattle Seahawks was a litmus test in the truest sense of the term—a chance for the upstart Redbirds to show that they belong with the big bad Seahawks.
Running back Chase Edmonds said as much.
"You know Seattle is going to be playing in January," Edmonds told reporters. "Everyone knows they are going to be in the playoff hunt. This is that type of games where you really find out, 'How real are we?'"
Apparently, pretty real.
Admittedly, the Cardinals allowed the Seahawks to move up and down the field seemingly at will, surrendering 572 yards of offense. But the Cardinals racked up over 500 yards of their own and notched three interceptions that wound up being the difference in the game.
If the Cardinals are going to continue a march toward the postseason, they're going to have to keep playing at a high level. Four of Arizona's next five games are against teams that are .500 or better—including a Week 11 rematch with the Seahawks in Seattle.
8. New Orleans Saints (4-2)
Last Week: 9
Week 7 Result: Won vs. Carolina 27-24
The New Orleans Saints were hopeful that coming out of the bye the team would have top wide receiver Michael Thomas back. Instead, New Orleans was short both Thomas and No. 2 receiver Emmanuel Sanders against the Carolina Panthers on Sunday.
Paced in receiving yards by UDFA rookie Marquez Callaway, the Saints gutted out a three-point win that kept them hot on the heels of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the NFC South. As has been the case most of the time that Thomas has been sidelined, the engine that powered the Saints in Week 7 was running back Alvin Kamara, who amassed 148 yards on 22 touches.
"The Saints aren't an easy team to get a bead on," Davenport said. "One week they look like an NFC power, the next they appear a clear step behind the best teams in the conference. Still, winning four of six games without one of their top offensive weapons for five of those contests is pretty impressive in its own right."
7. Tennessee Titans (5-1)
Last Week: 6
Week 7 Result: Lost vs. Pittsburgh 27-24
Much of the talk regarding the Titans' first loss of the 2020 season will likely center on veteran kicker Stephen Gostkowski and the missed field goal that sealed the deal. In fairness, inconsistent kicking has been an issue for the Titans this year.
But an even bigger problem is that for the second week in a row, the entire Titans team was inconsistent. Last week against the Houston Texans, the Titans came out hot but couldn't hold a lead. The opposite was true in Week 7 against the Steelers. Tennessee fell behind 27-7 before rallying to peel off 17 unanswered.
This isn't to say that Sunday's loss should be any sort of panic-inducer. The Titans are still 5-1 and in the driver's seat in what's shaping up to be a two-team race in the AFC South.
But if the Titans want to be taken seriously alongside the Kansas City Chiefs, Baltimore Ravens and Steelers as an AFC heavyweight, they need to play with more consistency—especially considering that five of the team's next six games are against teams with winning records.
6. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (5-2)
Last Week: 7
Week 7 Result: Won at Las Vegas 45-20
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers may well be the best team in the NFC—if not all of the NFL.
Granted, the Bucs don't have the league's best record, although there's no shame in losses on the road at New Orleans and Chicago. But the Buccaneers have a level of balance that not many (if any) teams in the league can match.
Offensively, Tom Brady continued his excellent play by torching the Raiders for 369 yards and four scores. Ronald Jones II and Leonard Fournette are a formidable duo in the backfield. The Buccaneers are adding Antonio Brown to a receiving corps that already included Mike Evans and Chris Godwin.
Oh, and tight end Rob Gronkowski appears to be rounding into form, which should terrify opposing defenses.
Defensively, Tampa entered Week 7 leading the NFL in both total defense and run defense. That run defense held one of the league's better tailbacks (Josh Jacobs) to 17 yards on 10 carries on Sunday. The week before, the Tampa defense did what no other team has been able to in 2020: shut down Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers.
The Tampa Toms are for real, and the NFC playoffs are going to be brutal this season.
5. Seattle Seahawks (5-1)
Last Week: 2
Week 7 Result: Lost at Arizona 37-34 (OT)
It was bound to happen sooner or later. Though the Seattle Seahawks offense has been lights-out, the team's leaky defense was going to cost them. And in Week 7, it finally happened.
Thanks largely to three Russell Wilson interceptions and over 500 yards of offense allowed, the Seahawks are unbeaten no more. The team generated zero pressure of Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray and allowed the Cardinals to gain 4.8 yards per carry.
The Seahawks are still in first place in the NFL's toughest division. But Sunday night's performance sent red flags skyward for one of our analysts.
"The Seattle pass rush is nonexistent, Davenport said, "and it cost them dearly in Week 7. Seven weeks into the 2020 season, the Seahawks have tallied all of nine sacks. No secondary can hold up forever, and Seattle's is no different. These defensive failings are placing immense pressure on Russell Wilson and the offense to essentially be perfect, and we saw Sunday night what happens when he isn't."
4. Baltimore Ravens (5-1)
Last Week: 5
Week 7 Result: Bye Week
The Baltimore Ravens didn't even take the bye week off.
With the Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers both looking the part of legitimate Super Bowl contenders ahead of the first of two meetings between the teams in Week 8, Baltimore made a big-time personnel move last week, acquiring edge-rusher Yannick Ngakoue from the floundering Minnesota Vikings for a pair of draft picks.
The 25-year-old Ngakoue, who joined the Vikings just before the season began in a trade with the Jacksonville Jaguars, had five sacks in six games with Minnesota. He'll join a Baltimore defense that entered Week 7 with the second-most sacks in the AFC, behind the aforementioned Steelers.
For the former Maryland standout, it's a homecoming of sorts, and Ngakoue said he's thrilled to be joining the Ravens.
"I'll be more than excited to be back home," Ngakoue told reporters. "This is where it all started for me with my journey."
The rich get richer.
3. Green Bay Packers (5-1)
Last Week: 4
Week 7 Result: Won at Houston 35-20
Last week, the Green Bay Packers suffered their first setback of the season, a 38-10 drubbing at the hands of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
It didn't take long for the Pack to shake that loss off.
Despite not having star running back Aaron Jones in the game, Green Bay had no problem whatsoever moving the ball. Aaron Rodgers threw for 283 yards and four touchdowns. Wide receiver Davante Adams had a huge game, exploding for 13 catches, 196 yards and two scores, And running back Jamaal Williams filled in admirably for Jones, racking up 114 yards and a score.
"That was a critical bounce-back win for the Packers," Gagnon said, "who might have proved their Week 6 dud against the Buccaneers was an aberration with a smackdown victory over a Houston team that is more talented than its record. Aaron Rodgers and Co. appear to be on a mission."
With Seattle's stumble in Arizona, the Packers are now tied for the No. 1 seed in the NFC ahead of next week's tilt with the Vikings.
2. Kansas City Chiefs (6-1)
Last Week: 3
Week 7 Result: Won at Denver 43-16
The Kansas City Chiefs were about as well-rounded as you can ask to be where scoring is considered in Week 7. On a snowy day in Denver, the team scored touchdowns in all three facets of the game: offense, defense and special teams.
On offense, the Chiefs got a scoring pass from Patrick Mahomes to Tyreek Hill and a touchdown run from rookie Clyde Edwards-Helaire. Defensively, the Chiefs got a pick-six from safety Daniel Sorensen. And on special teams, the Chiefs got a 102-yard kickoff return for a score from Byron Pringle.
Now, the rolling Chiefs are set to face the winless New York Jets, and to say that oddsmakers expect the game to be a blowout is an understatement. At DraftKings, the Chiefs opened as a 20-point favorite. Per John Breech of CBS Sports, it's just the 14th time since the AFL-NFL merger in 1970 that a team has been favored by 20 or more.
1. Pittsburgh Steelers (6-0)
Last Week: 1
Week 7 Result: Won at Tennessee 27-24
For a good portion of Sunday's matchup between the undefeated Pittsburgh Steelers and the unbeaten Tennessee Titans, it looked like the road team was going to win in a rout. The Steelers led the game 27-7 and looked like the best team in the NFL by a wide margin.
The Titans were able to make a game of it and almost sent the game to overtime, but the comeback came up short and the Steelers moved to a perfect 6-0 ahead of Week 8's AFC North showdown with the Baltimore Ravens.
There were a couple causes for concern in the game. The Steelers were held under 100 yards rushing and Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger threw three interceptions. But when a team has a defense as formidable as Pittsburgh's, the offense doesn't have to be flawless.
Playing a Titans team that rolled up points and yardage with ease a week ago, the Steelers held Tennessee to just 292 yards of offense. Running back Derrick Henry, who entered Week 7 as the NFL's leading rusher, had just 75 yards on 20 carries. Pittsburgh's pass rush harassed Ryan Tannehill with regularity, amassing a pair of sacks and half a dozen QB hits.
The Steelers have earned their status atop these power rankings. But this week's matchup with their archrivals will pose another stiff test.
"Typically when discussing the best team in the league, the topic veers toward an explosive offense, exciting quarterback play and/or a stingy defense," Sobleski said. "While some of that is true of Pittsburgh's case as the only remaining undefeated team, the reason behind the Steelers' success is much simpler. They are easily the most physical football team and simply bludgeon opponents in the trenches. It's awesome to watch."