We are now nearing the halfway point of the NFL season, and while it has been a wild ride to this point, normalcy is slowly returning to the football world. In Week 7, the Patriots locked down the Falcons in a Super Bowl rematch that few saw due to a creepy fog, sparking rumors of a Fog-Gate conspiracy, the Raiders beat the Chiefs at the last second and long-term injuries were suffered by Joe Thomas and Carson Palmer. In the MVP race, Carson Wentz has established himself as the front-runner as his Eagles sit in sole possession of the league’s best record, though his standing is in part due to Alex Smith’s Chiefs dropping a second straight game. With a number of games between contenders coming up next week, the only thing that is consistent in the NFL is that the power rankings are sure to stay in flux.
- Philadelphia Eagles (6-1): Last week: 1
Carson Wentz was phenomenal in the Eagles’ 34-24 win over the Redskins at home on Monday Night Football, as the second-year quarterback completed 17-of-25 passes for 268 yards and four touchdowns while leading the team in rushing yards with 63. Zach Ertz carved up Washington as well, catching all five of his targets while gaining 89 yards and scoring once.
- Pittsburgh Steelers (5-2): Last week: 4
Le’Veon Bell remained hot in the Steelers’ 29-14 win over the Bengals at home, as the veteran running back totaled 192 yards of offense. However, the Steelers have been making headlines for the wrong reasons thus far in 2017, and Martavis Bryant’s disparaging comments on Instagram about teammate JuJu Smith-Schuster reflect a broken locker room.
- Los Angeles Rams (5-2): Last week: 6
It is time to take the Rams seriously, as they just registered their second straight shutout. Jared Goff didn’t have his best game in the Rams’ 33-0 win over the Cardinals in London, but Todd Gurley’s 154 yards of offense and one touchdown powered LA to another win. However, their schedule is about to get tougher, as only three of the final nine teams they face have records under .500.
- Kansas City Chiefs (5-2): Last week: 2
The NFL’s last unbeaten team has now dropped two in a row, losing in a 31-30 thriller in Oakland Thursday night. Alex Smith, Kareem Hunt, Tyreek Hill and the offense were their typical dominant selves, but the Chiefs secondary was carved up by Amari Cooper, who racked up 211 yards after only gaining 146 in his first six games combined.
- New England Patriots (5-2): Last week: 7
In a Super Bowl rematch that saw a fog reminiscent of a Stephen King novel descend upon the field, the Patriots didn’t need an epic comeback to beat the Falcons this time around, winning 23-7 at home. Despite allowing significant yardage to the Atlanta O, the Pats’ bend-don’t-break defense came through when it had to.
- Seattle Seahawks (4-2): Last week: 5
Despite being held to just three points in the first half, the Seahawks shut out the Giants in the second half and scored 21 points en route to a 24-7 win in New York. Russell Wilson was stellar, throwing for 334 yards and three touchdowns, while the Legion of Boom held the Giants’ offense to just 177 yards of total offense.
- Minnesota Vikings (5-2): Last week: 8
With a 24-16 win over Baltimore, the Vikings are in the driver’s seat of the NFC North. Sacking Joe Flacco five times, Minnesota’s defensive unit was excellent on Sunday. While Jerick McKinnon was expected to take over the lead back duties, Latavius Murray made his claim to the starting role by rushing for 113 yards and a touchdown on 18 carries.
- New Orleans Saints (4-2): Last week: 9
The Saints used a late surge to top the Packers in Lambeau 26-17, as their balanced offense was too much for Green Bay to match with Brett Hundley spelling Aaron Rodgers. Ted Ginn carved up the Packers’ secondary to the tune of 141 yards, and Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara were a powerful backfield duo.
- Houston Texans (3-3): Last week: 10
- Jacksonville Jaguars (4-3): Last week:
No Fournette, no problem. With their stud rookie running back sidelined with an injury, Blake Bortles commandeered the Jaguars to a dominant 27-0 win over the Colts in Indy. The Jags D continues to impress, as the unit racked up an otherworldly 10 sacks and forced two fumbles.
- Dallas Cowboys (3-3): Last week: 19
The ‘Boys left no doubt in their 40-10 win over the 49ers in San Francisco, with Ezekiel Elliott rushing for 147 yards and two touchdowns while adding in a 72-yard touchdown catch for good measure. Dallas’s oft-maligned defense performed admirably as well, with Demarcus Lawrence notching a sack and a fumble recovery.
- Buffalo Bills (4-2): Last week: 14
Emerging as the victor in a hard-fought 30-27 win over the Bucs at home, the Bills continued to show surprising promise. Buffalo’s search for a No. 1 wide receiver after trading away Sammy Watkins this offseason has been fruitless for much of this season, but Deonte Thompson’s 107 yards and catching all four of his targets could be a good sign.
- Washington Redskins (3-3): Last week: 13
The Redskins came up short in their 34-24 loss to the Eagles, though Kirk Cousins gave it his best effort. Jordan Reed appears to be an integral cog in the offense again, as the former Pro Bowler was targeted 10 times, catching eight passes for 64 yards and two touchdowns.
- Detroit Lions (3-3): Last week: 12
- Oakland Raiders (3-4): Last week: 27
A major statement win over the Chiefs at home was exactly the result the struggling Raiders needed, as the 31-30 victory over their rival broke a four-game losing streak for a team that was looking to contend for the Lombardi trophy. Derek Carr appeared to be fully recovered from his Week 4 injury, throwing for 417 yards and three touchdowns against Marcus Peters and Co.
- Atlanta Falcons (3-3): Last week: 16
Ring the alarm in Atlanta, everyone. After starting the season 3-0, the Falcons are now .500 and look nothing like the team that nearly won Super Bowl LI. Matt Ryan may not be playing like he did last year, but he has been efficient throughout the year. The interior pass rush that powered Atlanta’s D last year was non-existent on Sunday night, as Grady Jarrett and Co. didn’t hit Brady once.
- Carolina Panthers (4-3): Last week: 3
The Panthers embarrassed themselves in Chicago, losing 17-3 to one of the league’s worst teams. Cam Newton’s passer rating of 54.3 was pitiful, and it is certainly the time to start questioning Carolina’s place among the NFL’s elite.
- Miami Dolphins (4-2): Last week: 15
Despite Matt Moore having to replace the injured Jay Cutler, the Dolphins mustered a comeback victory over the Jets at home 31-28. Miami was down 28-14 heading into the fourth quarter, but a surprisingly efficient performance from Moore and two touchdown receptions from Kenny Stills pushed the Dolphins over the top.
- Tennessee Titans (4-3): Last week: 22
Winning 12-9 in Cleveland may not be an encouraging result, but in what is sure to be a tight AFC South race, a win’s a win. The Titans’ powerhouse rushing attack couldn’t get anything going, as DeMarco Murray rushed for 59 yards on 18 carries and Derrick Henry toted the rock 13 times for 13 yards.
- Los Angeles Chargers (3-4): Last week: 25
The Bolts are finally playing how we thought they would, as they have won three straight games after starting the year winless, and punctuated their latest W with a 21-0 shutout of division rival Denver. Melvin Gordon was shut down by a tough Broncos run defense, though rookie Austin Ekeler averaged 5.4 yards per carry and caught a touchdown.
- Green Bay Packers (4-3): Last week: 11
With Aaron Rodgers undergoing surgery for his broken collarbone, Brett Hundley took the reins for the Green Bay offense and promptly dropped an egg despite a great effort from rookie running back Aaron Jones. While getting the inexperienced quarterback reps will help, Hundley completed less than half of his passes, managed just 87 yards and was picked off.
- Denver Broncos (3-3): Last week: 20
The Broncos are in a downward spiral, having now lost two consecutive games to teams that started the season 0-4 or worse. Trevor Siemian’s play has fallen off drastically since the start of the season, and their next three games are an absolute meat-grinder: at Chiefs, at Eagles and at home against the Patriots.
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-4): Last week: 23
Jameis and Co. have been living on the edge this year, as their last four games have been decided by less than a touchdown. Tampa’s 2-4 record is somewhat of a shock for a team expected to take the next step, but Jameis Winston’s performance isn’t the problem. The third-year quarterback threw for 384 yards and three scores against a stingy Buffalo D.
- Chicago Bears (3-4): Last week: 26
Da Bears beat Cam Newton and Carolina in a game that didn’t see an offensive touchdown, even with Mitch Trubisky throwing just seven passes. Safety Eddie Jackson was the sole reason the Bears won on Sunday, scoring a touchdown off of a fumble and another off of an interception.
- New York Jets (3-4): Last week: 21
A fourth-quarter collapse prevented Gang Green from ascertaining a winning record as the Jets were grounded by the Dolphins. The Jets’ receiving corps is dangerously thin, as Matt Forte and Bilal Powell led the team in receiving yardage against Miami.
- Baltimore Ravens (3-4): Last week: 28
An overhaul may be in store in Baltimore, as the Ravens look far from their Super Bowl-winning days of just five years ago. Joe Flacco has thrown for five touchdowns and eight interceptions on the season and has yet to throw for more than 250 yards in a game. The wide receiving corps just got thinner, as Mike Wallace suffered a concussion Sunday.
- Arizona Cardinals (3-4): Last week: 18
Adding injury to insult, the Cardinals were steamrolled 33-0 by the Rams in London as Carson Palmer broke his left arm. With the 2015 MVP runner-up sidelined for eight weeks, veteran backup Drew Stanton will take over the offense. He may not get much help from his run game, as Adrian Peterson mustered only 21 yards on 11 carries against LA.
- Cincinnati Bengals (2-4): Last week: 24
With each passing week, the temperature of Marvin Lewis’ seat grows. Andy Dalton was terrible in the Bengals’ loss to Pittsburgh, throwing for 140 yards, two touchdowns and two picks while being sacked four times.
- New York Giants (1-6): Last week: 29
The defense held the Seattle offense in check for three quarters on Sunday, but the Giants inability to sustain offense led to a fourth-quarter breakdown. The time of possession battle went 35:26 to 24:34 in favor of Seattle, painting a stark picture of the Giants’ offensive woes. With the exception of rookie first-rounder Evan Engram, the entire unit needs to be overhauled.
- Indianapolis Colts (2-5): Last week: 30
Indy’s O-Line crumbled against the Jaguars’ potent pass rush, and the run game couldn’t get much going either as the Colts were thoroughly embarrassed by their division rival at home. TY Hilton was contained against the Jaguars’ elite corner duo of Jalen Ramsey and AJ Bouye, catching two balls for 27 yards.
31. San Francisco 49ers (0-7): Last week: 31
The 49ers stayed winless after suffering a blowout loss to the Cowboys at home, as their offense continued to be mired in a slump. CJ Beathard again was adequate, even rushing for the 49ers only touchdown, but the arrow is still trending downwards for San Fran.
- Cleveland Browns (0-7): Last week: 32
Coming close to beating a solid Titans team in Week 7, there may be warranted hopes of getting a single win in 2017 for Believeland. The quarterback carousel continued, however, as DeShone Kizer was pulled once again, this time for Cody Kessler. While Kessler was horrible, posting a 50.5 passer rating, Kizer was somehow worse, accumulating a 36.2 passer rating.