*Photo Credit: Kelvin Kuo/AP
Keeping with the pattern of previous weeks, Week 9 brought many surprises. From the Chiefs’ failures to the Saints’ successes, this wild NFL season refuses to mellow out. After the craziness, here is how every team stacks up.
No. 1: Philadelphia Eagles: 8-1
Last Week: No. 1
The Eagles bullied the struggling Broncos on both offense and defense on Sunday as the Eagles scored 51 points to the Broncos’ 23. Wentz proved that he is a serious MVP candidate by besting the Broncos’ defense with 4 touchdown passes. The defense gave Brock Osweiler a hard time, picking him off 2 times and not allowing much in the run game either. This Eagles team is flying high with the best record in the NFL heading into their bye.
No. 2: Pittsburgh Steelers: 6-2
Last Week: No. 2
The Steelers have been riding their defense in recent weeks (though they have benefited from big plays from JuJu). Hopefully they used this bye to help their offense become a little more efficient in the run as well as the pass, as Bell was mediocre against the Lions.
No. 3: Los Angeles Rams: 6-2
Last Week: No. 5
The Eagles weren’t the only team that bullied someone on Sunday. The Rams crushed the Giants 51-17. The offense has been stellar this season, and Goff’s development showed as he threw for over 300 yards and 4 touchdowns. This team is still in a hotly contested NFC West race with the Seahawks, but they certainly have a good chance at the postseason.
No. 4: New England Patriots: 6-2
Last Week: No. 4
Hopefully the Patriots used their Bye Week to re-examine their struggling defense. This team will continue to have a high-powered offense as long as Tom Brady is at the helm. The Patriots will look for an easy win against a struggling Broncos team this week.
No. 5: Jacksonville Jaguars: 5-3
Last Week: No. 7
The Jaguars’ dominant defensive performance was enough to overcome the struggling Bengals on Sunday. Blake Bortles was efficient enough to keep the team’s offense rolling despite Fournette’s absence due to team suspension. The Jaguars’ only competition in their division is the Titans, who have been struggling recently, so the Jags could easily run away with the division.
No. 6: New Orleans Saints: 6-2
Last Week: No. 10
The Saints have now won 6 games in a row since their 0-2 start to the season. Their defense has been playing like a top unit recently and the offense looked great against the Buccaneers. This team is now on top of the NFC South, along with the Panthers, but they are looking to make a playoff push while they still have Brees.
No. 7: Dallas Cowboys: 5-3
Last Week: No. 11
The Cowboys delivered an impressive win against the Chiefs on both sides of the ball. The Cowboys defense held the stellar Chiefs offense to only 17 points and the offense scored 28 points. The Cowboys are beginning to look like they did last year as they continue to fight Ezekiel Elliott’s suspension.
No. 8: Minnesota Vikings: 6-2
Last Week: No. 8
The Vikings have been riding high on their defense for the past several weeks, but their offense hasn’t been half bad with Case Keenum. The bye gave the Vikings time to rest and evaluate Sam Bradford, and hopefully they now have a timetable on his return.
No. 9: Kansas City Chiefs: 6-3
Last Week: No. 3
The Chiefs have lost 3 of their past 4 games after a 5-0 start to the season, which is a very bad sign. Their offense has been declining as Alex Smith threw his first interception of the season and Kareem Hunt was rarely used. This team’s defense has been showing flaws too, as they have allowed 28+ points twice during this skid. In good news, the only team that can potentially challenge them in their division is the Raiders, who are still two wins behind them.
No. 10: Washington Redskins: 4-4
Last Week: No. 14
The Redskins were able to beat the Seahawks in an upset on Sunday thanks to an impressive showing from the defense. The defense was able to hold the Seahawks to just 2 touchdowns, and they picked off Russell Wilson twice. The offense will need to get into a groove in the coming weeks, which may be aided by the return of Jordan Reed.
No. 11: Seattle Seahawks: 5-3
Last Week: No. 6
The Seahawks looked bad in their home loss to the Redskins. The Legion of Boom held the Redskins to just 17 points, but the offense was only able to muster 14 points. The blatant lack of a run game is severely hindering this offense, and it will show as teams only have to watch Russell Wilson. The Seahawks will look to bounce back against the struggling Cardinals in Arizona on Thursday.
No. 12: Carolina Panthers: 6-3
Last Week: No. 20
The Panthers were able to pull off a win despite the loss of their number one wide receiver, Kelvin Benjamin, in a trade to the Bills. Cam Newton showed that he isn’t afraid to run the ball, as he had 9 carries for 86 yards and a touchdown — solid numbers for a running back, let alone a QB. The defense was also impressive, holding the Falcons to just 20 points on the day. The Panthers showed that they are still very much in playoff contention.
No. 13: Buffalo Bills: 5-3
Last Week: No. 9
The Bills were disappointing on Thursday, as their offense seemed to be inept until garbage time. The Bills’ offensive inefficiency is the reason that they went out and traded for Kelvin Benjamin, and he will likely improve this team’s offense significantly. The defense struggled too, allowing 34 points, an uncharacteristic total for this team. They will have a tough matchup against a hot team Saints this weekend.
No. 14: Oakland Raiders: 4-5
Last Week: No. 17
The Raiders won a big game against the Dolphins on Sunday night, recording a big offensive game. Derek Carr threw for just over 300 yards, and Marshawn Lynch had his best game of the season with 14 carries for 57 yards and 2 touchdowns. Lynch began to lose yards per carry as the Raiders were trying to run out the clock, leading the Fins to load the box. Hopefully the performance by Lynch will give Del Rio a reason to feed Beast Mode more in weeks to come.
No. 15: Atlanta Falcons: 4-4
Last Week: No. 13
The Falcons offense continued to flounder as the Falcons fell to the Panthers on Sunday. The most notable failed play came from the most unlikely of people: Julio Jones. The All-Pro receiver dropped a wide open touchdown pass that could have swung the game in the Falcons’ favor. If the offensive struggles have spread to the team’s star player, then things are looking quite grim.
No. 16: Los Angeles Chargers: 3-5
Last Week: No. 16
The Chargers had a week to rest, and now they must face the Jaguars in Week 10. They hopefully used the bye to work on their offense, which was concerningly inefficient against the weak Patriots defense.
No. 17: Detroit Lions: 4-4
Last Week: No. 17
The Lions offense looked much better in their Monday Night win over the Packers. Matthew Stafford threw for over 300 yards as well as two scores, but the team’s rushing attack remained lackluster. They will not get many games easier than a Rodgers-less Packers team moving forward, so the run game must improve.
No. 18: Tennessee Titans: 5-3
Last Week: No. 19
Marcus Mariota and the Titans were able to edge out the Ravens on Sunday in a close game. The passing game did not improve very much and remains a concern for this team. The return of rookie WR Corey Davis could prove to spark the passing game, but the matchup won’t get much easier as the Titans play the Bengals this week.
No. 19: Baltimore Ravens: 4-5
Last Week: No. 15
The Ravens offense was pedestrian in their loss to the Titans, continuing a pattern of mediocrity on that side of the ball. The run game wasn’t getting much going either, but the team appears to be, at the very least, gelling into a competent offense. Even with modest improvements on offense, the defense is going to have to find a way to carry this team for weeks to come.
No. 20: New York Jets: 4-5
Last Week: No. 26
The Jets won a big game on Thursday against the Bills and are still in contention in the hotly contested AFC East. However, all of these wins are likely to hurt this team in the end. The Jets are not a team built for long term success, and without the draft picks, the rebuild process may take longer than expected.
No. 21: Miami Dolphins: 4-4
Last Week: No. 24
The Dolphins might have taken a loss to the Raiders but many things looked good for the team on offense. Jay Cutler had his first 300+ passing game of the year, and the run game appeared to do well despite the departure of Jay Ajayi. The Dolphins are still in contention for the playoffs, but the team will have to translate offensive success into wins.
No. 22: Cincinnati Bengals: 3-5
Last Week: No. 22
The Bengals lost to the very impressive Jaguars on Sunday, in large part to their disappointing offense. The only touchdown came from a 7-yard run by Joe Mixon. AJ Green’s ejection certainly didn’t help, but this team will need to get better on offense sooner rather than later.
No. 23: Chicago Bears: 3-5
Last Week: No. 23
The Bears are still in the rebuilding process and are paying close attention to Mitch Trubisky’s development. It will be interesting to see how Trubisky used his bye to prepare for this week’s game against the Packers.
No. 24: Denver Broncos: 3-5
Last Week: No. 21
The Broncos got absolutely trounced in Philadelphia as Brock Osweiler was completely incapable of running the offense. The defense was helpless to the high-powered Eagles offense, led by MVP candidate Carson Wentz. Even Von Miller, a normally very positive player, said “we’re not a good football team”, which is definitely a bad sign for a team that needs to remain positive.
No. 25: Arizona Cardinals: 4-4
Last Week: No. 27
Offensive coordinator Harold Goodwin said he would “feed the beast”, and boy did he. Adrian Peterson finished his game against the 49ers with 37 carries for 159 yards and a pair of receptions for 2 yards. The Cardinals will continue to have to rely on a strong ground game as they face the Seahawks at home this Thursday.
No. 26: Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 2-6
Last Week: No. 25
The Buccaneers’ season is effectively over now that they are well behind their division’s leaders and that Jameis Winston is out for a few weeks. The Buccaneers disappointed greatly this season, but, at the very least, they will have the draft picks to reload and come back swinging next season.
No. 27: Indianapolis Colts: 3-6
Last Week: No. 29
The Colts were able to get a win against the Texans after their star rookie QB Deshaun Watson went down in practice. Now that Andrew Luck is officially out for the season, the Colts can at least focus on next year and begin to investigate the potential of their rookies.
No. 28: Houston Texans: 3-5
Last Week: No. 12
Deshaun Watson elevated this entire team beyond its true capabilities, and it was clear that his presence was missed on Sunday. Tom Savage looked atrocious for a great majority of the game, and the Texans offense was simply terrible. Savage did begin to play well on the final drive of the game, so hopefully he just needed to get reacquainted with the offense and will therefore play better next week.
No. 29: Green Bay Packers: 4-4
Last Week: No. 28
The Packers continue to miss Aaron Rodgers as the playoffs become further and further out of reach. The Packers will likely continue to fall as Brett Hundley is simply unable to lead this team the way successfully. The Packers will face the Bears this week, and they will likely struggle against the Bears’ surprisingly good defense.
No. 30: New York Giants: 1-8
Last Week: No. 29
The Giants’ lack of offensive ability continues to show as their biggest performer was once again their rookie sensation, tight end Evan Engram. The Giants’ season has already been effectively over, but the beatdown by the Rams definitively ended it.
No. 31: San Francisco 49ers: 0-9
Last Week: No. 31
The 49ers’ latest loss came at the hands of the crippled Cardinals under the direction of Drew Stanton. However, there is a lot of hope for this team, as it now has their potential franchise quarterback in Jimmy Garoppolo. Fans are likely to call for him to start before the end of the season.
No. 32: Cleveland Browns: 0-8
Last Week: No. 32
Is there any way in which the Browns could have used their bye to prepare? Not likely. The Browns will continue to find hope only in the prospect of high picks in April.