Just when it looked like some order was returning to the NFL landscape, Week 7 decided to convolute the picture once again. Aaron Rodgers’ broken collarbone has understandably been the story of the week, as the Super Bowl contender Packers now look to have an outside shot at the playoffs. However, one cannot overlook the Chiefs first loss of the season and the potential reinstatement of Ezekiel Elliott’s suspension, both of which would have dominated the headlines had the former MVP quarterback not suffered a season-ending injury. The 2017 season has been impossible to gauge, with perennial contenders falling to overlooked teams, who then proceed to lose to the nobodies. More so than in any NFL season in recent memory, the good teams have become impossible to separate from the bad. With so much still changing, large jumps and falls were had by a number of teams in this week’s power rankings.
- Philadelphia Eagles (5-1): Last week: 2
It is shocking that after six games the Eagles hold the top spot in the power rankings. Carson Wentz and company started hot last year before fizzling down the stretch, but winning in Carolina on Thursday Night Football is an indicator that the Birds are here to stay.
2. Kansas City Chiefs (5-1): Last week: 1
The Chiefs lost their unbeaten season at home in a grind-it-out game with Pittsburgh, as their top-ranked offense was held to just 13 points. Alex Smith and Kareem Hunt both had their worst games of the year, while Le’Veon Bell ran wild over the Kansas City D.
3. Carolina Panthers (4-2): Last week: 3
Due to the fact that no one else has played well enough to knock Carolina from the top three, the Panthers will stay here despite suffering a home loss to the Eagles. Cam Newton did not look good in the air, completing just over 50% of his passes and throwing three picks, but his 71 yards and a touchdown in the running game helped Carolina stay close.
4. Pittsburgh Steelers (4-2): Last week: 14
Sunday afternoon’s victory over the Chiefs was a statement win for the Steelers, who have struggled mightily in 2017. The difference-maker was Le’Veon Bell, who finally busted loose for 191 all-purpose yards and a touchdown in their 19-13 victory.
5.Seattle Seahawks (3-2): Last week: 8
6. Los Angeles Rams (4-2): Last week: 13
The Rams may be for real, as they possess the league’s top scoring offense and don’t appear to be slowing down. Jared Goff was locked down by the Jags’ elite secondary, but a huge game from Todd Gurley and two special-teams touchdowns earned LA a 27-17 win in Jacksonville.
7. New England Patriots (4-2): Last week: 7
While the Jets have been better than most predicted, the defending champs should not be seriously tested by Josh McCown and company. The Pats won 24-17, though the questionable call on Austin Sefarian-Jenkins touchdown may have gifted New England the win.
8. Minnesota Vikings (4-2): Last week: 11
Having already lost Sam Bradford and Dalvin Cook, the Vikings caught a break when Aaron Rodgers went down in Minnesota, opening the door for a 23-10 win over their rivals. Jerick McKinnon stepped up against a stout Green Bay defense, scoring two touchdowns and totaling 99 yards.
9. New Orleans Saints (3-2): Last week: 20
It may be too early to know if the Saints are for real, but they’ve won three games in a row, including wins over Carolina and now Detroit. The Saints exploded for 52 points against the Lions despite Drew Brees throwing for just 186 yards, as their defense scored three touchdowns.
10. Houston Texans (3-3): Last week: 17
DeShaun Watson is starting to give Kareem Hunt a serious run for the ROY award as the 12th-overall pick tossed three touchdowns in a dominant 33-17 win over the Browns. An early injury suffered by Jadeveon Clowney was a scare to a team that had already lost JJ Watt and Whitney Mercilus, though their Pro Bowl pass rusher returned later in the game.
11. Green Bay Packers (4-2): Last week: 5
It’s all on Brett Hundley’s shoulders now. And if his 154 yard, three-interception performance in the Pack’s 23-10 loss in Minnesota was any indication, Green Bay’s playoff aspirations have been dealt a significant blow.
12. Detroit Lions (3-3): Last week: 6
The Lions made it somewhat close at the end in their 52-38 loss to the Saints, but allowing 52 points is never good. The Saints’ three defensive scores were fluky, but Matthew Stafford shouldn’t be throwing three picks against one of the league’s worst pass defenses.
13. Washington Redskins (3-2): Last week: 12
Beating the 49ers, who pulled Brian Hoyer for rookie CJ Beathard, at home 26-24 is not the kind of a win expected of a playoff contender, but it was a win nonetheless. Kirk Cousins shredded the San Francisco defense, but their offensive production is limited when the running game averages 2.8 yards per carry.
14. Buffalo Bills (3-2): Last week: 15
15. Miami Dolphins (3-2): Last week: 24
Seemingly out of nowhere, the Dolphins have a record over .500 despite having Jay Cutler play quarterback for them. Jay Ajayi was the spark plug for Miami’s 20-17 win over the Falcons, rushing for 130 yards on 26 carries.
16. Atlanta Falcons (3-2): Last week: 4
It may be time to recognize that the Falcons aren’t the dominant team they were last year. Back-to-back losses at home to afterthought AFC East teams is troubling to say the least, and the play of defending MVP Matt Ryan has been lackluster.
17. Jacksonville Jaguars (3-3): Last week: 11
The Jaguars continue to befuddle as they lost at home to the Rams, though they were able to hold Rams top-scoring offense to only one touchdown, another indicator of their offseason free agent acquisitions paying off.
18. Arizona Cardinals (3-3): Last week: 26
It may just be one game, but trading for Adrian Peterson seems to be the move of the year for Arizona. After gaining single-game rushing yard totals of 18, 26, 33 and 4 through his first four games, All Day exploded for 134 on the ground against Tampa Bay, powering the Cards to a 38-33 win.
19. Dallas Cowboys (2-3): Last week: 16
20. Denver Broncos (3-2): Last week: 9
The loss to the hapless Giants was a shock to a Denver team that had looked strong throughout the first four games. Trevor Siemian threw for a whopping 374 yards, but it is hard to control a football game when your running game is contained to just 46 yards.
21. New York Jets (3-3): Last week: 22
Gang Green was robbed at home against their rival Patriots, as Austin Seferian-Jenkins seemingly scored a touchdown but the referees ruled that the tight end had lost possession of the football going into the end zone, making it Patriots’ football. Nonetheless, getting a 354 yard, two score performance of Josh McCown is a good sign.
22. Tennessee Titans (3-3): Last week: 25
In Marcus Mariota’s return, the Titans utilized a second-half comeback to top the Colts 36-22 at home. Mariota looked strong, but it was Derrick Henry who stole the show with his 145-yard, one touchdown effort.
23. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-3): Last week: 18
Winning without your star quarterback on the road is tough enough, but it’s even tougher when your defense allows 38 points. Ryan Fitzpatrick actually kept the offense humming, but Tampa needs more out of its defensive unit if they want to make it out of a tough NFC South.
24. Cincinnati Bengals (2-3): Last week: 23
25. San Diego Chargers (2-4): Last week: 28
It’s now two wins in a row for the Chargers, as they came up with a 17-16 win in Oakland. Antonio Gates’ time in the spotlight may be over for good, as second-year tight end Hunter Henry has racked up 148 yards and two touchdowns in the last three games.
26. Chicago Bears (2-4): Last week: 29
Mitch Trubisky got his first NFL victory in an overtime effort in Baltimore, though the rookie completed just 8 of 16 passes for 113 yards and one touchdown. However, the Bears showed they can win with their ground game, as the team racked up 231 rushing yards behind Jordan Howard’s 167 yard performance.
27. Oakland Raiders (2-4): Last week: 21
Even with the early return of Derek Carr from what was expected to be a multi-week injury, the Raiders offense stagnated at home against the Chargers as the Silver and Black lost their fourth straight game. Amari Cooper has fallen flat this year, as he hasn’t gained more than 28 yards during Oakland’s losing streak.
28. Baltimore Ravens (3-3): Last week: 19
Losing at home to one of the league’s worst teams may be an indicator that the Joe Flacco era in Baltimore could be coming to a close. The former Super Bowl-winning quarterback threw for 180 yards, no touchdowns and two picks against the Bears’ no-name secondary.
29. New York Giants (1-5): Last week: 31
The Giants finally got their first win of the 2017 season, beating the Broncos at Mile High 23-10. The G-Men got their running game going for the first time this season, as Orleans Darkwa gained 117 yards against a solid Denver defense. First round pick tight end Evan Engram got involved as well, catching five balls for 82 yards and a touchdown.
30. Indianapolis Colts (2-4): Last week: 27
The Colts kept it close against Tennessee before the Titans pulled away late, but it is clear that Indy is a notch below the rest of the AFC South. The good news is that Andrew Luck is returning to practice this week, and could be ready to play by early November.
31. San Francisco 49ers (0-5): Last week: 30
Despite having to pull Brian Hoyer after a 4 for 11 start, the 49ers played the Redskins tight in DC behind a not-as-terrible-as-Hoyer performance from rookie CJ Beathard. While his two touchdowns may have appeased fantasy owners, Carlos Hyde’s 28 rushing yards are a troubling sign.
32. Cleveland Browns (0-5): Last week: 32
Everything’s a mess in Cleveland. Hue Jackson’s squad was dominated in Houston, though their two late touchdowns made the score closer than the game actually was. Kevin Hogan doesn’t appear to be the savior either, as DeShone Kizer’s replacement had a lowly passer rating of 38.1 against a banged-up Texans D.