1. Detroit Lions (+5)
No, your eyes do not deceive you and there is no need to adjust your computer monitor. Thanks to those above them tripping over themselves, the Detroit Lions are the best team in the NFL as of this week. That’s not even getting to the squad’s solid all-round performance at Tampa Bay. Led by Jared Goff, Detroit continued to guide the offense along while the Lions defense is beginning to border on elite. Another injury to David Montgomery stings, but a win at Baltimore this week will further cement that the Lions deserve to hold the top spot.
2. Kansas City Chiefs (+2)
Did Kansas City smother Denver defensively to pick up their fifth straight win? Yes. Is there reason to be suspicious about how good this team is outside their record? Yes. As previously mentioned, the Chiefs defense’s four sacks and surrenderance of less than 200 total yards was the main catalyst for victory last Thursday night. However, Patrick Mahomes and the offense failing to sustain momentum against one of the worst defenses in the league should be a sign of future concern. With the division rival Chargers coming to Arrowhead, Kansas City has to put their sloppy play behind them.
3. San Francisco 49ers (-2)
Just when San Francisco was looking like an unstoppable juggernaut, a last-minute stunner to the Browns finally revealed their imperfections. Despite the 49ers’ defense trying to single handley win the game, Brock Purdy’s poor performance and kicker Jake Moody whiffing on the game-winner handed the team their first regular season loss in almost a year. An oblique injury to Christian McCafferey further rubs salt in a painful wound. Playing a fledgling Vikings squad on Monday night should hopefully prove that this contest was merely an aberration.
4. Philadelphia Eagles (-2)
Philadelphia’s season-long failure to piece together a 60-minute effort finally came back to bite them in a humiliating, 20-14 loss to the New York Jets. The Eagles’ offense did nothing to sway their pattern of suspect play, highlighted by Jalen Hurts throwing three interceptions. Even with the defense shutting down the opposing offense for most of the game, numerous injuries hampered them at the worst moments. Primetime football against the Dolphins’ high-flying offense is going to require Philadelphia to play all four quarters for once.
5. Jacksonville Jaguars (+7)
A 37-20 stifling of division rival Indianapolis gives Duvall their third straight win as well as the appearance of a serious contender. Travis Etienne Jr. is making a legit case as one of the premiere running backs in the NFL, along with a criminally underrated defense that had seven combined sacks and turnovers last week. If Trevor Lawerence can become a bit more consistent and eliminate the turnovers, Jacksonville won’t have to worry too much about running with the AFC South title.
6. Buffalo Bills (-3)
Barely squeaking out a win against a bottomfeeder in the Giants is why it’s becoming more difficult to see this year’s Buffalo Bills as an elite team. Props has to be given to their defense for giving up just nine points despite a fumble, interception, and two missed field goals, but Josh Allen’s inconsistency and the lack of a running game is holding back this entire team from being in the upper echelon. With how ugly last week was, who knows if their matchup against New England is really a guaranteed victory.
7.Miami Dolphins (+1)
Hanging 42 points on Carolina this past Sunday helps erase any memory of being down by double digits at one point. Raheem Mostert shined without De’Von Achane to score two rushing touchdowns. Yet, it’s become clear by this point that if Tua Tagovailoa and Tyreek Hill are clicking, there’s no stopping this runaway train. The defense is the side of the ball that will have to step up in a big way against Philadelphia, especially considering how much they struggled in their last major test against Buffalo.
8. Baltimore Ravens (-3)
Another week, another edition of Baltimore scrapping out a win against inferior competition in spite of opportunities to win the game outright. Justin Tucker kicking six field goals was the only thing of note on the offense besides Lamar Jackson flat-out not playing up to his contract. The Ravens defense cannot be left out to dry for the third straight week now that their next opponent in the white-hot Detroit Lions leaves little margin for error.
9. Cleveland Browns (+2)
A shocking 19-17 upset over the San Francisco 49ers thrusts Cleveland right back into talks of making noise this year. Myles Garrett and the defensive unit have shattered any talk of fraudulence by completely shutting down a potent offense and forcing critical mistakes. Getting Deshaun Watson back from injury should give a boost to their scoring touch, and getting to play a deflated Colts squad is just more icing on the cake.
10. Dallas Cowboys (-)
The close nature of their Monday night contest with the Chargers will disguise the fact that Dallas played one of their best games as a team this season. Dak Prescott commanded the offense beautifully, the defense was completely dominant the whole way through, and the Cowboys now find themselves just one game back of the NFC East lead. To be fair, the offensive line play and Mike McCarthy’s game planning are still areas of concern. Regardless, Dallas head into their bye week on a good note.
11. Los Angeles Rams (+2)
If the Rams can stick to what worked last week, there is potential for a playoff spot by season’s end. Kyren Williams shredding on the ground while Cooper Kupp looking unstoppable after just two games can keep Matthew Stafford from having to be a sole gamechanger. However, concern should be raised in Williams’s injury and the defense giving up a ton of yardage. As long as they keep points off the board, Los Angeles should be lingering around in the hunt.
12. Cincinnati Bengals (+14)
Two weeks' time is all it took for Cincinnati to go from dead in the water to slingshotting themselves back into the upper half of the rankings. You know it’s a special time when Joe Burrow’s resurgence from injury takes a back seat to the defense putting up a next level performance against the Seahawks. Two interceptions, four sacks, and a clutch red zone stand to seal the game delivers the Bengals the reward of a much-needed bye week.
13. Houston Texans (+3)
The Texans keep defying all odds and expectations by winning three of their last four to keep themselves fighting for the AFC South. C.J. Stroud made up for his first interception as a rookie with two touchdowns, while the defense kept New Orleans from putting up points when it mattered most. Already matching last year’s win total through six weeks shows the promise Houston boasts if they can keep finding ways to win.
14. Seattle Seahawks (-5)
Seattle dropping a 17-13 contest at Cincinnati reflects another common case of the defense playing their heart out not being enough in the end. An effort that included sacks, turnovers, and only giving up three points in the second half couldn’t overturn a lackluster showing by Geno Smith, paired with an inability to score in the red zone. This week’s matchup against the Cardinals is critical for Seattle to turn it around, as Arizona is the last softball opponent the Seahawks will see for a while.
15. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-5)
Major inefficiencies on the offensive attack are keeping Tampa Bay fighting solely for the NFC South instead of pushing for more. Neither the passing or running game could get anything going against the Lions, leaving the stellar Buccaneers’ defense to allow the opposition to run away with the game. If this is a team that offers no punch once the offense is neutralized, how seriously should they be taken?
16. Los Angeles Chargers (-)
Time to bust out the 2023 Los Angeles Chargers checklist for another week. Justin Herbert doing everything he can to uplift the offense? Check. Brandon Staley making questionable decisions that cost his team points? Check. The Chargers keep it close until a final moment of heartbreak to lose the game? Check. A team with this much starpower should not be playing like this if they’re legitimate about contending.
17. Washington Commanders (-)
Sam Howell’s three passing touchdowns and the Washington defense holding serve after jumping up to a 16-point-lead puts Washington back into the win column. Holes still need to be addressed in the offense flatlining in the fourth quarter, along an offensive line giving up the most sacks in the NFL. Regardless, this much-needed victory along with getting to play the last place Giants at least keeps the Commanders moving forward.
18. Pittsburgh Steelers (+3)
The Steelers were on bye this past week and will resume play against the Los Angeles Rams this Sunday.
19. Atlanta Falcons (-1)
Last Sunday’s 24-16 defeat at the hands of Washington reveals an Atlanta squad stuck in familiar mediocrity thanks to questionable coaching and a struggling offense. Another poor showing by Desmond Ridder removes any doubt of him not being the answer, while Arthur Smith’s bungling of the team’s last-minute drive is a worrying trend. An offense with that much talent plus a solid defensive core cannot function when the lights are brightest.
20. Las Vegas Raiders (+9)
The fact that the Raiders are currently 3-3 baffles any sort of logic or reasoning. Having to hold off a surge from the one-win Patriots is the least of their concerns now that Jimmy Garoppolo could be out for a while with a back injury. Even crazier is that there’s a good chance they’ll be above .500 by next week, since they face the Chicago Bears on Sunday. Players like Maxx Crosby, Davante Adams, Jakobi Meyers, and Josh Jacobs keep Las Vegas interesting to watch, but their schedule won’t remain easy forever.
21. Green Bay Packers (-2)
The Packers were on bye this week and will resume play against Denver this Sunday.
22. New Orleans Saints (-)
No major changes to New Orleans’ standing this season as their performance at Houston this past week kept to the script for the most part. The outstanding efforts of Chris Olave and their defense wasn’t enough to make up for Derek Carr and Pete Carmichael sabotaging any chance to take the game for themselves. Traveling to a serious playoff contender in Jacksonville for primetime football signals the immediate need for an identity change.
23. Tennessee Titans (-8)
Tennessee is the epitome of a squad that can keep it close in most games, yet isn’t good enough for that to translate into wins. Even with the performances of Derrick Henry and Jeffrey Simmons, Ryan Tannehill hasn’t elevated this team at all. An upcoming schedule of teams fighting for legitimacy could signal the beginning of a full-on rebuild for the Titans.
24. Indianapolis Colts (-4)
Losing by 17 on the road at Jacksonville paired with news that Anthony Richardson may be out for the rest of the season confirms that this season isn’t the one for Indianapolis. Gardner Minshew struggled mightily when the game was in his hands, and the defense needs to be the priority of continued reconstruction. Expect this ranking to slide down further after they face Cleveland on Sunday.
25. New York Jets (+3)
A team failing to fire on all cylinders on offense like the Eagles was the perfect target for the Jets’ brick wall defense that propelled them to their third win. When Breece Hall and Garrett Wilson are the focal point of the offense, Zach Wilson doesn’t force turnovers, and the defense has actual support, this New York team doesn’t look half bad. Their next two weeks involve their bye and a Big Apple showdown against the Giants.
26. Minnesota Vikings (-3)
How shocking that the Minnesota Vikings could defeat an injured Chicago Bears team in the most unconvincing manner possible. Kirk Cousins’ solid play even without Justin Jefferson and a fourth quarter pick six staved off any chance of a comeback. A hard-fought road victory can only be rewarded with getting to host the San Francisco 49ers looking to make an example out of somebody.
27. New York Giants (+2)
There’s something to be said about the Giants keeping it close with Buffalo all game long, despite the odds being heavily stacked against them. The sad reality is that it’s debatable about how much a victory would’ve changed New York’s future as of now. With injuries compiling and most of their NFC East slate yet to come, it’s no wonder that there’s talk of them being sellers at the deadline.
28. Denver Broncos (-1)
A 19-8 loss on Thursday night not only gave the Broncos their 16th straight loss to the Chiefs, but has them somehow off to a worse start than last year. The team couldn’t take advantage of their best defensive performance all season thanks to Russell Wilson turning back into a liability in a grating showing by the offense. Denver has to think about somehow wiping the slate clean following this loss, if they want to salvage this campaign.
29. Arizona Cardinals (-5)
After a short trend of keeping games mostly competitive, we can safely say that the Cardinals are who we thought they were. James Conner being out due to injury led to stagnation in the red zone, while the defense got gashed on the ground. Arizona also has a tough slate of games going through November; don’t be surprised if the Cardinals occupy a spot around this range for most of the year.
30. New England Patriots (-5)
Three straight embarrassing losses for the Patriots puts them in the conversation for worst team in the entire league for the first time in ages. Mac Jones may be damaged beyond repair, the defense has injuries all over, and the changes made to the coaching staff have had minimal impact. New England hasn’t had a start to the season like this since 1993, and with having to face Buffalo this Sunday, a dark chapter could be upcoming for this faded dynasty.
31. Chicago Bears (+1)
The Bears’ faithful got to enjoy a little over a week of hope before it quickly evaporated after a 19-13 loss to Minnesota. A winnable game squandered by turnovers and failure to utilize offensive talent should put Matt Eberflus and Luke Getsy on very thin ice. Now that Justin Fields has a thumb injury with no timetable yet, things can only go downhill from here.
32. Carolina Panthers (-1)
Remember when Carolina was leading 14-0 against Miami? Probably not because it vanished in the blink of an eye along with any semblance of defense or offensive line development. The Panthers are unquestionably the worst team in the NFL in a season where they can’t even hope for the number one overall pick in the draft.