BY ADAM GREENE
We’re kicking off our official week of NFL action the way we always do, by delivering out smiley face stickers, hastily drawn check marks and frowny emojis to all 32 NFL franchises. It’s harsh, but deserved. And somebody’s got to do it.
The top of the rankings are all but untouched, but we do have a new No. 32 at the bottom. The team in question, and its long suffering fanbase, is no stranger to that particular designation.
1. BUFFALO BILLS (5-1)
The Bills had the week off, but looked so good before the hiatus, I can find no reason to move them from the top spot. Sunday night they can do the thing that only Mike McCarthy and Jimmy Garoppolo have managed to do in the recent past, pretty much end the Green Bay Packers’ season.
Last week: No. 1
2. PHILADELPHIA EAGLES (6-0)
Like the Bills, the Eagles took a little mid-season vacation and, just like Buffalo, look none the poorer for it. In fact, the rest of the NFC looks significantly worse after multiple shocking Week 7 upsets. Wednesday, the Eagles got even better by adding Robert Quinn in a trade from the Chicago Bears.
Last week: No. 2
3. KANSAS CITY CHIEFS (5-2)
The Chiefs not only won the rematch of Super Bowl LIV with the San Francisco 49ers, they proved that the fact the Niners took a lead in that game was nothing more than a fluke. Kansas City and Buffalo are far ahead of the rest of the AFC.
Last week: No. 3
4. MINNESOTA VIKINGS (5-1)
Is it any coincidence that three of our top four teams were all on byes last week? Probably, but it did make NFL Red Zone less fun to watch. The Vikings not only have the inside track for the NFC North, they have a legit shot at home field advantage in the playoffs. And, hey, we’re in Week 8. It’s not too early to start thinking about that.
Last week: No. 6
5. NEW YORK GIANTS (6-1)
Another week, another Giants game as road underdogs, this time at the Seattle Seahawks. How many of these do the G-Men have to win before we stop doing that? Brian Daboll should go ahead and craft his Coach of the Year speech and free up his time come the postseason. He’s going to need it to coach at least one playoff game.
Last week: No. 7
6. LOS ANGELES RAMS (3-3)
The Rams come off their bye as healthy as they’ve been all season, with Brian Allen and Van Jefferson both slated to re-enter the line up. They’ll need all hands on deck against a slumping San Francisco 49ers team that, for whatever reason, decides to not slump at all when they play the Rams. The regular season version of this streak has to stop at some point.
Last week: No. 9
7. LOS ANGELES CHARGERS (4-3)
The 2022 Chargers look a lot like the 2021 Chargers and that’s bad news for any postseason hopes. This team, for whatever reason, just can’t seem to bring it every week and it shows up at the worst possible times.
Last week: No. 4
8. DALLAS COWBOYS (5-2)
It took about a half, but Dak Prescott knocked off the rust and kept the Cowboys in NFC East contention with a solid performance in his return from injury Sunday. Dallas has one of the best records in the conference and is now a stronger team than the one that built it.
Last week: No. 11
9. TENNESSEE TITANS (4-2)
After the first two weeks of the season, the AFC South looked as if it were up for grabs. Now it looks like the Titans should easily cruise to another title and home playoff game, barring anything catastrophic happening.
Last week: No. 12
10. CINCINNATI BENGALS (4-3)
Well, look who decided to finally show up — the good Bengals. Joe Burrow remembered he was awesome and showed out Sunday, becoming the only QB in NFL history to throw for 500-plus yards and four touchdowns twice in his career.
Last week: No. 13
11. BALTIMORE RAVENS (4-3)
If the Ravens lose to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Thursday night, it will just be the second loss for Lamar Jackson to an NFC team in his career. His first was two weeks ago when he fell to the Giants. So he now knows what he must do.
Last week: No. 14
12. NEW YORK JETS (5-2)
According to Mina Kimes, the Jets refer to offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur as “MiLF.” She points out that his QB is Zack Wilson and decides just to let the joke sit there. I think I will too. I will say this, New York can pretty much wrap up the New England Patriots’ 2022 campaign Sunday and I think we’d all appreciate it if they’d go ahead and do it. The Jets did get some bad news after their Sunday win over the Denver Broncos, they lost running back Breece Hall for the season.
Last week: No. 15
13. MIAMI DOLPHINS (4-3)
It wasn’t pretty, but it didn’t have to be. The Dolphins plodded past the Pittsburgh Steelers to get right back into the win column with Tua Tagovailoa back under center.
Preseason: No. 16
14. SEATTLE SEAHAWKS (4-3)
Lost in Geno Smith’s resurgence is the fact that Kenneth Walker III might be on his way to an Offensive Rookie of the Year award. In the preseason, the Seahawks looked like they’d be picking in the Top Five. Now, they might still land a pick there thanks to a Broncos implosion, but their own pick could come once the playoff teams are seeded in the draft.
Last week: No. 20
15. TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS (3-4)
For the first time in his entire career, Tom Brady lost back to back games against teams with losing records. It’s also the first time he’s had a losing record through seven games since 2002. It won’t have any lasting effect on the GOAT’s legacy, but it could be a huge problem for Todd Bowles, who looks a whole lot like the head coach the New York Jets fired.
Last week: No. 5
16. SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS (3-4)
This might be the funniest, and most damning stat of Kyle Shanahan’s head coaching career. He is 1-29 as a head coach when trailing by just three points or more when heading INTO the fourth quarter. Yes. INTO. Meaning, they have 15 minutes to overcome a field goal deficit and the Niners have done it all of one time under Shanny.
Last week: No. 8
17. GREEN BAY PACKERS (3-4)
Well, the Packers made history last week by losing back to back games against teams in which they were favored for the first time since 1998. After losing three in a row, I don’t even know where to look up that stat. Now they have the Buffalo Bills in Buffalo coming. Under Matt LaFleur, the Pack has never lost more than four games in a regular season. They’ve already hit that mark in 2022.
Last week: No. 10
18. CHICAGO BEARS (3-4)
The Bears opened the week with a win, then took a loss on the roster, sending pass rusher Robert Quinn to the Eagles in exchange for a mid-round pick. This team has looked all over the place this season, but Monday Night’s victory over the Patriots at least made the offense, and Justin Fields, look competent.
Last week: No. 29
19. WASHINGTON COMMANDERS (3-4)
Taylor Heinicke proved, once again, he’s the best quarterback on Washington’s roster as he has over the last three seasons. By winning and playing 60 percent of the snaps against the Packers, he picked up an extra $125,000 on his contract too.
Last week: No. 24
20. NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS (3-4)
Here’s the news. In spite of all the evidence of your eyes and what actually happened in their game with the Chicago Bears Monday night, Mac Jones has supposedly taken 90 percent of the practice snaps this week and is on pace to start against the Jets Sunday. So, he’ll get three series again? Also, here’s a fun fact — Bill Belichick’s head coaching record without Tom Brady as his QB is now 75-82.
Last week: No. 17
21. ATLANTA FALCONS (3-4)
The Falcons picked the wrong week to play the Bengals, specifically the Sunday that Cincy remembered how to play football. This week they get the Carolina Panthers, coming off a big win of their own. I don’t think the Panthers can do it twice.
Last week: No. 18
22. ARIZONA CARDINALS (3-4)
The return of DeAndre Hopkins paid immediate dividends and the Cardinals offense looked good enough to make you believe Kyler Murray’s PS5 is broken.
Last week: No. 27
23. INDIANAPOLIS COLTS (3-3-1)
Matt Ryan’s tenure as the Colts quarterback came to an end with their loss to the Titans last week. He’s been benched for good for Sam Ehlinger, who has never tossed a pass in the NFL. So Frank Reich’s job prospects are looking pretty good.
Last week: No. 19
24. LAS VEGAS RAIDERS (2-4)
Josh Jacobs rushed for 144 yards, 154 yards and 143 yards over the last three weeks and has scored six touchdowns. He will be a free agent at the end of the season because Vegas didn’t pick up his fifth year option.
Last week: No. 23
25. CAROLINA PANTHERS (2-5)
Two years ago, before the COVID-19 pandemic shut the world down, PJ Walker and Taylor Heinicke were both in the XFL. Last Sunday, they both knocked off potential Super Bowl teams as significant underdogs.
Last week: No. 32
26. NEW ORLEANS SAINTS (2-5)
Jameis Winston’s status is still up in the air for Sunday’s game against the Raiders, so we still don’t know if it’ll be him or Andy Dalton tossing the game-clinching interception at the final minutes of the fourth quarter.
Last week: No. 21
27. PITTSBURGH STEELERS (2-5)
Regardless of how poorly this season is going for the Steelers, the bright side is Pittsburgh Dad has been downright clutch every week. And if that’s the price to pay for Mike Tomlin’s first losing season as a head coach, I’m willing to pay it.
Last week: No. 22
28. DENVER BRONCOS (2-5)
The Broncos are stuck with Russell Wilson no matter what, but they don’t have to keep Nathaniel Hackett around. Reports are already out that, if the team loses in London Sunday, they’re opening a fire sale on their roster and Hackett might not make the trip back.
Last week: No. 25
29. CLEVELAND BROWNS (2-5)
No team gave up more this offseason, both in trade and contract, for less than the Browns. If they don’t change their fortunes quick, all Deshaun Watson will be playing for come Dec. 4 is knocking the Texans out getting two Top Five draft picks.
Last week: No. 26
30. JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS (2-5)
Another week and another one-score loss for the Jaguars. The good news is, they’re playing the Broncos this week and that team does its best not to score at all.
Last week: No. 28
31. HOUSTON TEXANS (1-4-1)
With the way the Browns have crapped the bed this season, this Houston job doesn’t look so bad considering they could end up with multiple Top 10 picks in April’s draft. All the Giants did with that kind of compensation was rebuild their team and open 5-1.
Last week: No. 30
32. DETROIT LIONS (1-5)
Well, hey, it turns out it didn’t matter how much better the Lions looked on HBO’s Hard Knocks. They still suck and, here they are, back at the bottom of the Power Rankings. Here’s another fun fact — Detroit fired Jim Caldwell after he went 36-28 as a head coach (and they should have. He wasn’t good). Since then, they’re 18-51-2.
Last week: No. 31
Follow Adam Greene on Twitter @TheFirstMan.
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