With a victory over the previously undefeated Rams, the Saints now take over the top spot in the NFL Power Rankings. That much was probably expected. But how far does L.A. fall as a result of a close loss to a great team? And with the movement at the top, what effect does that have further down the rankings?
Tier 1: The New Number One and the Rest of the Best
1 New Orleans Saints (7-1; +61)
2 Los Angeles Rams (8-1; +99)
Based on the result of last Sunday’s game, putting the Saints in the top spot seems like the only option at this point. And deservingly so. But the Rams were only a couple bounces away from stealing the possible NFC Championship preview game. The gap between them is still paper thin, so having them occupy the top-two spots seems appropriate. The Rams are on some thin ice though (well, as thin of ice as an 8-1 team could be), because for two weeks in a row they’ve ended games on the ropes – even though they ultimately pulled out a win against the Packers.
Who dat say dey gonna beat dem Saints!?!? New Orleans has taken down 4 straight division leaders! 7 wins in a row ?
— Steve Geller (@SteveGellerWWL) November 5, 2018
3 Kansas City Chiefs (8-1; +101)
Kansas City moves down a spot, though no fault of their own, really. The Chiefs still sport the game’s best point differential – barely – but that’s almost entirely a credit to how good their offense has been. K.C.’s defense has been a concern all season, though it hasn’t really been taken advantage of. The game changes slightly in the playoffs. So no matter how much winning they do in the regular season that side of the ball could lead to their untimely downfall this season.
4 New England Patriots (7-2; +68)
Though the Patriots’ situation isn’t totally unique (it’s actually pretty much the same as it has been in past years) it’s still interesting how easily they can sail to a division title yet how tough of a fight it is for a first-round bye in the playoffs. Even though they beat Kansas City, New England might not be able to catch them in the win column. But they also can’t ease up at all with the Chargers right on their heels.
5 Carolina Panthers (6-2; +40)
Carolina could make a huge statement by beating the Steelers on Thursday night. But their chances of doing so aren’t exactly great. If they did win, they’d stand to gain more ground in terms of league-wide respectability than what’d they lose if they lost to Pittsburgh. Still, the Panthers biggest advantage is a solid defense and a quarterback that makes it almost impossible to game plan against because he’s such a stand-alone talent.
6 Los Angeles Chargers (6-2; +40)
L.A.’s AFC team gets the Raiders this week. Which is about the next best thing aside from a bye week. Every week it seems crazier and crazier than the Chargers’ only two losses came against the Rams and Chiefs. Other than that, they’ve taken care of business. That bodes well for this team going forward.
“The @Chargers are in the midst of a 41-day stretch between games played in their building. Along the way, they’ve traveled 13,800 miles, spent over 20 nights in hotel rooms, and been on the team plane together for nearly 40 hours. Oh, and they haven’t lost a game.” – @PSchrags pic.twitter.com/w8LpR4cLtz
— GMFB (@gmfb) November 7, 2018
Tier 2: Surging, but Not There (Yet)
7 Pittsburgh Steelers (5-2-1; +39)
Here’s a team that’s running about as red-hot as any in the NFL. Being here would’ve been seen as nearly impossible after Week 1’s tie with Cleveland. But the Steelers have found their footing, even without Le’Veon Bell.
8 Houston Texans (6-3; +32)
In Week 9 Houston squeaked by Denver 19-17. The Texans now head into the bye week on a serious winning streak. Most teams might want to keep playing with half-a-dozen consecutive W’s under their belt, but the week off comes at a really good time for this squad. Even though they’ve been hot recently, the time off gives them a chance to recharge and, more importantly, give Deshaun Watson time to get his body right for the stretch run.
9 Cincinnati Bengals (5-3; -16)
Despite a winning record, this feels like a team that’s trending downward. That’s largely due to the team still having a negative point differential and the news of A.J. Green’s injury (though that isn’t as bad as what it could’ve been). They still belong in the top-10, but need to show some rejuvenation or they risk losing ground in the playoff hunt, especially with Pittsburgh surging.
Tier 3: Winning Records, but Going Sideways
10 Chicago Bears (5-3; +82)
It’s been a bit confusing trying to figure out what Chicago is doing with their backfield (one of the best in pro football) but when you have Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen, that’s a good problem to have. The bigger problem for the Bears is making sure Khalil Mack’s ankle gets healthy enough for him to get back to his dominant self.
11 Washington Football Team (5-3; -12)
Leading a division heading into Week 10 while maintaining with a negative point differential it pretty crazy. It makes more sense when considering how bad the NFC East has been thus far. Washington deserves this spot based on record and likelihood they’ll be in the postseason (at least at this point) but this team is still far from being a true contender.
12 Philadelphia Eagles (4-4; +22)
At the trade deadline, Philly made an aggressive move to pick up Golden Tate. He should provide a high-volume pass catcher for an offense that really needed one. Still, it’d be nice to see the Eagles show more ability to put opponents away when they have the chance. It’s been kind of weird how this team has waffled back and forth between bigtime Super Bowl hangover and glimpses of the dominant team from last year. They need to show way more of the latter.
“I prefer a city like Philadelphia where not everybody’s looking for you. It’s not about the glitz and glamour, but it’s about rolling up your sleeve and fighting and earning everything you get.” –#Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins pic.twitter.com/UQRLRMCxyW
— Dave Uram (@MrUram) November 7, 2018
13 Minnesota Vikings (5-3-1; +17)
The Vikings are in the middle of a stretch that includes three in-division games bookmarked by the Saints (who they lost to) and the Patriots waiting on the other side. If they can make it through at (or near) the top of the NFC North they’ll be on solid ground regarding a playoff berth.
Tier 4: One of These Will Emerge, but Who?
14 Atlanta Falcons (4-4; +2)
Atlanta is looking like the team most thought they’d be all along but weren’t due to a really slow start. Bruce Irvin could prove to be a huge pickup for the defense. The Falcons are on the rise but can’t afford to slip up at all.
15 Green Bay Packers (3-4-1; -12)
16 Miami Dolphins (5-4; -38)
Miami is a game above .500 despite a -38 point differential seems like a math problem that’s impossible to reverse-engineer. The Packers desperately need a win when these two teams play each other on Sunday. Really, a loss for either team would be debilitating.
Interesting stat: The Dolphins defense leads the NFL in interceptions with 15. The Packers are tied for 21st with five picks.
QB Aaron Rodgers has thrown only one INT this season.
— Josh Tolentino (@JCTSports) November 8, 2018
17 Baltimore Ravens (4-5; +53)
Cue the quarterback controversy. Add on top of it a coach suddenly on the hot seat.
18 Tennessee Titans (4-4; -7)
Spoiler Alert: Winning games by scores like 9-6 isn’t sustainable in the modern NFL. They took advantage of a reeling Cowboys team, but at this point, who couldn’t?
19 Seattle Seahawks (4-4; +32)
The Seahawks have put together a completely respectable season considering their stat and all the drama with Earl Thomas and other loses of players across the board. At one point it looked like this was a team headed for a top-five draft pick, but instead, they’ve put themselves in the playoff picture.
20 Jacksonville Jaguars (3-5; -36)
21 Indianapolis Colts (3-5; +18)
These two AFC South squads play each other on Sunday. That game kind of feels like a battle of relevance in the division. The winner being still in the hunt while the loser might as well just go away for the rest of the season.
#Jaguars remaining schedule:
Colts, Steelers, Bills, Colts, Titans, Redskins, Dolphins, Texans.
Channel that playoff Blake, and this team has a very favorable schedule.
— Dave Nelson (@JvilleJaguars) November 5, 2018
22 Detroit Lions (3-5; -30)
It’s rebuild time in Detroit. But as long as Matthew Stafford is there, the team has a hard ceiling on the timeline. That’s puts the whole organization between a rock and a hard place.
Tier 5: Trending Bad
23 Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-5; -46)
Tampa has invested a ton of resources in Jameis Winston. But he just hasn’t developed in a way that would merit a long-term contract. Still, you have to wonder if maybe a short-term, prove-it deal type deal would be beneficial to both sides given that Winston is a free agent at season’s end. Otherwise, it might be time to cut bait.
24 Dallas Cowboys (3-5; +3)
Like Winston in Tampa Bay, Dak Prescott’s standing on the Cowboys would seem to be on shaky ground. Same for Jason Garrett. But Jerry Jones likes both guys and might be too loyal to both. That would be detrimental to Dallas’ long-term forecast.
25 Denver Broncos (3-6; -8)
Trading away Demaryius Thomas was a huge concession for this team. Their season is over for all intents and purposes. But what do they have going forward? There might be another floor down yet here before things start to get better.
26 Cleveland Browns (2-6-1; -57)
The internal coaching battle that has gone on behind the scenes this season in Cleveland is/was one of the season’s unexpected guilty pleasures.
27 New York Jets (3-6; -15)
Gang Green had people excited after a Week 1 win, then proceeded to lose three straight. They followed that up by climbing back to 3-3 before losing three straight (again). They have a nice chance to get back in the winning swing of things with a game against Buffalo this week. But let’s not get fooled into thinking it means anything, ok?
Tier 6: What Are We Fighting For?
28 San Francisco 49ers (2-7; -32)
29 New York Giants (1-7; -55)
Nick Mullens was a really nice, feel-good story. But let’s remember, he did it against the Oakland Raiders. It takes (at least) two to prove. But his opponent this week won’t provide much of a challenge, either. For the Giants, it would be a positive sign if they showed some fight in any of their remaining games.
30 Buffalo Bills (2-7; -145)
As unfair as it is to judge a team that doesn’t make trade deadline moves because there are so many variables in an exchange, you kind of have to wonder why the Bills didn’t cash in the few assets they have for more draft picks. Given their point differential, it’s kind of amazing they’ve won two games.
31 Arizona Cardinals (2-6; -89)
Josh Rosen’s numbers aren’t great, but he hasn’t looked all that bad, either. There’s nothing around him though, outside Larry Fitzgerald and whatever version of David Johnson is still intact. But the Cardinals better start trying to find weapons for Rosen or they’ll be fighting a losing battle no matter how talented their young QB is.
Josh Rosen, one of us. ? pic.twitter.com/BDSHGZAE12
— SPORTSRADIO 94WIP (@SportsRadioWIP) November 8, 2018
32 Oakland Raiders (1-7; -111)
Although the Browns season has seen its share of drama, this season is a bit of a step in the right direction for them. But there’s no greater indictment on how much further they need to go than the fact that they lost to this Raiders team. Even when Cleveland isn’t on the bottom, they manage to get there by the transitive property. Oakland should’ve been 0-16 this year.