Photo courtesy USA Today
A few early season trends are being broken as we reach the midpoint of the season. Some teams declared dead on arrival early on are having a midseason surge. Others that started strong are starting to taper off. The result is leaving us with a jumbled mess of 3-4 win teams for right now. We tried to reflect the recent trends as well as we could in these rankings, with the high risers being the Eagles and Dolphins. Taking a trip down the rankings this week were the Bills and Steelers, among others.
1. New England Patriots (6-1) +1
With Tom Brady back in the lineup, the Patriots have looked unbeatable. A road test in Buffalo this week against a team that handed them their only loss on the season will test that theory.
2. Minnesota Vikings (5-1) -1
The weak link of this team, the offense, could not get anything going in Philidelphia Sunday. Which Sam Bradford will show up in Chicago for a prime time Monday night matchup against a team the Vikings should be able to handle?
3. Dallas Cowboys (5-1) –
Coming off their bye week, Dallas looks to ride their five game win streak in a rookie quarterback showdown Sunday night against division rival Philadelphia. Carson Wentz has shown some chinks in the armor in recent weeks and is looking more vulnerable.
4. Seattle Seahawks (4-1-1) –
Despite matching ridiculous missed field goals and struggles offensively, the Seattle defense showed again Sunday night why it’s one of the best in the league. They slowed dynamic running back David Johnson to just 3.4 yards a carry and no scores.
5. Denver Broncos (5-2) +2
Trevor Siemian outplayed his Houston counterpart Brock Osweiler as the Broncos annihilated the Texans Monday night in a game that provided the Broncos vindication for letting Osweiler walk out the door in the offseason. However, the Denver defense was the hero of this game, as has been and will likely continue to be the case this season.
6. Green Bay Packers (4-2) +3
The good news is that Aaron Rodgers broke out of his slump and threw three touchdowns in Week 7 against the Bears. The bad news: their backfield is so plagued by injury that we saw receivers taking handoffs for much of the night. Green Bay will face a higher caliber team Week 8 when they face the Falcons.
7. Philadelphia Eagles (4-2) +6
The Eagles shocked the league yet again in Week 7 with a win over the mighty Vikings. The Philadelphia defense was the storyline of this matchup as they recorded six sacks and forced four turnovers. The Eagles will look to carry their momentum into a critical divisional matchup with the red hot Cowboys in Week 8.
8. Atlanta Falcons (4-3) -3
The Falcons are reeling after losing two straight heartbreakers. Matt Ryan has looked like one of the NFL’s elite so far this year but the Atlanta defense will need to step up if they are to remain atop the NFC South for much longer. The Falcons will take on the surging Packers in Week 8.
9. Oakland Raiders (5-2) +1
You really need to give props to the Raiders offense and their tenacity. The Raiders keep winning games, despite their defense that couldn’t stop a bleeding nose. Oakland’s defense has allowed over 300 passing yards per game, easily last in the league. Hey, 5-2 is 5-2, just win baby.
10. Pittsburgh Steelers (4-3) -4
If the Steelers meet the Patriots in the playoffs they better hope Gronkowski is hurt, because he abuses that defense and always has. Outside an interception in the end zone, backup Landry Jones did a serviceable job filling in for the injured Big Ben. General feeling is this team can still contend when Ben comes back.
11. Kansas City Chiefs (4-2) –
Holding the Saints to 21 points is impressive, especially when you consider that they’ve scored at least 32 points in four of the six games they’ve played in this year. The second half of this game was ugly for the Chiefs; they need to finish better to keep off better teams.
12. Arizona Cardinals (3-3-1) –
That has to be the greatest worst game ever. A tie against the Seahawks is better than a loss. The defensive line played great, and David Johnson continues to show he’s for real. You have to wonder if Arians is scouting quarterbacks coming up. Palmer’s play has already declined and he won’t play forever.
13. Buffalo Bills (4-3) -5
The Bills had a four-game winning streak snapped with a 28-25 loss to the Dolphins. After the trip to Miami, things will only get more difficult for Buffalo with New England and Seattle coming up on the schedule. With Tom Brady back and a stingy Seahawk defense playing well, the Bills could easily head into their bye week 4-5.
14. Detroit Lions (4-3) +5
After a 20-17 win over Washington, Detroit is suddenly riding a three-game winning streak. An ugly loss to the Bears appears to be long in the rearview mirror. A Week 8 matchup against the Texans should keep the Lions rolling for at least one more week before they host the one-loss Vikings.
15. San Diego Chargers (3-4) +5
If the Chargers had been able to finish games from the start of the season, this bunch could be sitting at 7-0. But alas, bad beats have put San Diego at four losses by a combined 14 points. With back-to-back wins over the Broncos and Falcons, don’t be surprised if the Chargers carry momentum for several weeks with a schedule that presents two of six opponents that currently have a winning record.
16. Washington Redskins (4-3) -1
Washington’s aerial attack ranks third in the league, but deficiencies on the 20th-ranked defense showed through as the Lions drove 75 yards in 49 seconds in the final minute of a 20-17 loss. With the Bengals coming to town in Week 8, the Redskins should be able to score at will against the 21st-ranked defense.
17. Cincinnati Bengals (3-4) –
The Bengals have only managed to get wins against inferior talent in the Jets, Dolphins and Browns. A Week 8 matchup against the Redskins will be a good litmus test to see what direction this team will take for the rest of the season. I’ll be honest, it doesn’t look good.
18. Houston Texans (4-3) -4
Brock Osweiler’s return to Denver was an ugly one, as the Texans struggled to move the ball. Thankfully for Houston, they are in a division full of young talent that has not yet produced at the highest level. Sunday’s matchup with the Lions could be another tough game.
19. New York Giants (4-3) -1
The Giants traveled to London to face the Rams in a game that was not worth getting up early to watch. The New York defense however did wake up and recorded four interceptions, including one returned for a touchdown in the close victory.
20. Los Angeles Rams (3-4) -4
Los Angeles is home to up and coming young stars, why not give rookie Jared Goff a shot at QB? Following their horrendous offensive showing in London, the Rams might have a few things on their mind as they head into the bye week.
21. Miami Dolphins (3-4) +7
Arian Foster retired this week, but Jay Ajayi has rushed for 418 yards over the last two games. Their winning ways could continue, as Miami’s next four opponents have a combined 9-19 record.
22. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-3) +4
Although they do have three losses, Tampa Bay is just one game back in the NFC South and undefeated in divisional games. This week they host a battle of talented young quarterbacks as Oakland comes into town.
23. Tennessee Titans (3-4) -1
After their bi-annual loss to the Colts, the Titans look to rebound against the equally bad Jaguars Thursday night. Marcus Mariota has all the makings of a franchise quarterback, but he must have a team around him for them to truly succeed, and the powers that be don’t seem to be getting the hint so far.
- Indianapolis Colts (3-4) +3
Playing in the worst division in the NFL, the Colts and Titans are tied for the number two spot, both with a 3-4 record. The Colts’ chances of staying in front aren’t looking good, as they get ready to face the Chiefs Sunday and the Packers the following week. This might be Andrew Luck’s longest season to date.
- Baltimore Ravens (3-4) -4
With a four game losing streak under their belt, the Ravens look forward to this much needed bye to regroup after dropping their last game against the awful Jets. Things might be a little tough next week, however, as they will face the Steelers who are looking to stay afloat without Big Ben.
- New Orleans Saints (2-4) -2
With a very slow start, the Saints are in a downward spiral. This is just a sign of things to come for the aging Saints as they get ready to face Seattle Sunday. It’s hard to think of the Saints as a bad team after having success in recent years, but it might be time to clean house.
- Carolina Panthers (1-5) -4
My, how the mighty have fallen. After an astronomical 2015 season, the Panthers are at the bottom of their division and show no signs of climbing back up the ladder of greatness. The best part of this shocking season is watching Cam Newton revert back to his pouty self when things don’t go his way.
- New York Jets (2-5) +1
The ride with Geno Smith was short lived as he suffered a season-ending torn ACL just a quarter and a half into his return to the starting job. Surprisingly, Ryan Fitzpatrick came into the game to lead the lowly Jets to a victory over Baltimore. If he can keep the turnovers down, the job is his.
29. Jacksonville Jaguars (2-4) -4
The preseason hype is wearing off more and more with each bad loss. This time it was the Raiders beating the brakes off of Jacksonville in a game that was never close. Blake Bortles looks broken as he’s tossed up nine interceptions through six games this season. Gus Bradley may be in trouble soon.
30. Chicago Bears (1-6) –
Jay Cutler returns to the starting job by force. Just days after Brian Hoyer broke his arm against the Packers, Cutler was magically cleared to play. Judging by Cutler’s comments recently he knows he isn’t long for the job unless he works some major magic the remainder of the year.
31. San Francisco 49ers (1-6) –
Remember when Chip Kelly was going to revolutionize the NFL? Fun times. In his defense, he isn’t working with much with this roster, but one has to wonder how long he’ll be around with his team collapsing like they did Sunday after a strong start.
32. Cleveland Browns (0-7) –
Is this the week the Browns get that elusive first win? The Jets come into town and we all know Fitzpatrick has been prone to some, let’s say, questionable decision making this year. If Cleveland can get a few of those turnovers, they may be able to escape the winless season.
Reporting by: Ryan Willie, Devin Olsen, Adam Cichoski, Brad Curnow, Mark Wait, David Roura and Kaleb Searle.
I grew up on a farm in Burley, Idaho, but I’ve always had an intense love of sports. I’m studying journalism in an attempt to turn my love into a career. I’m a huge Utah Jazz, Tennessee Titans, and San Jose Sharks fan. If it’s a sport, I’ll watch it.