*Photo Credit: Mike Lawrie/Getty Images
After this week, many teams that were hoping for the playoffs were left with huge losses and dashed hopes. Here is how each team stacks up against the competition as the race to the playoffs begins.
No. 1: Philadelphia Eagles: 7-1
Last Week: No. 1
The Eagles were flying high with the best record in the NFL, and they are still going after trouncing the 49ers this weekend. Wentz didn’t play as well as he has this season, but, considering the poor weather conditions, this is nothing to worry about. This team will be tested to see if the losses of Jordan Hicks and Jason Peters will affect them against a better team.
No. 2: Pittsburgh Steelers: 6-2
Last Week: No. 3
In all fairness, the next three rankings could possibly go in any order but i’m going with the Steelers and their defense for now. While the Steelers did give up over 400 passing yards to Matthew Stafford, they did not let him score once. The ability to prevent touchdowns is crucial and the Steelers are allowing only 16.7 points per game. The defense will likely be what decides this team’s fate moving on.
No. 3: Kansas City Chiefs: 6-2
Last Week: No. 4
The Chiefs showed something that was very important on Monday against a tough Denver defense: the offense doesn’t need Kareem Hunt to succeed. The star rookie back was held under 100 yards from scrimmage for the first time but the Chiefs didn’t falter. The defense played well too as it had three interceptions and two fumble recoveries. The Chiefs appear to have recovered from their two game losing streak.
No. 4: New England Patriots: 6-2
Last Week: No. 2
The Patriots have fallen due to their unimpressive win as well as impressive play from the Chiefs and Steelers. The Patriots won a close game against the Chargers where there was poor play on both sides of the ball. Now with Jimmy G gone, the Patriots have no backup QB, which is not great when you have a 40 year old as your lone QB. Then again, he is Tom Brady.
No. 5: Los Angeles Rams: 5-2
Last Week: No. 5
The Rams are riding high and they got some well deserved rest this weekend on their bye as they will look to continue down the road to the playoffs in their week 9 matchup against the weak Giants.
No. 6: Seattle Seahawks: 5-2
Last Week: No. 6
The Seahawks offense had a day against the Texans but the defense did not perform as well. The defense allowed 38 points on and that is not a recipe for success moving forward. The Seahawks are positioned well for the playoffs but the Legion is not looking good right now.
No. 7: Jacksonville Jaguars: 4-3
Last Week: No. 7
The Jaguars defense has been tearing it up but the quarterback play has been lacking. This defense is certainly playoff caliber, but Bortles will need to improve for this team to have hope.
No. 8: Minnesota Vikings: 6-2
Last Week: No. 9
This Vikings defense has been special this year, and the offense’s ability to maintain consistency, despite losing their starting QB and RB to injury, is remarkable. If the offense can remain consistent and the defense continues to play lights out, then this team will maintain its hold on the NFC North.
No. 9: Buffalo Bills: 5-2
Last Week: No. 11
The Bills defense has been playing very well this season, and, this past weekend, so did the offense. The Bills scorched the struggling Raiders and made a statement that they are still after the playoffs. The Bills will look to continue their momentum against their division rival Jets on Thursday Night Football.
No. 10: New Orleans Saints: 5-2
Last Week: No. 10
The Saints did not have a very impressive win over the Chicago Bears. While they did limit Da Bears on defense, not much was happening for Drew Brees on offense. Brees has been struggling this year, but he needs to regain his elite composure for this team’s offense to take off.
No. 11: Dallas Cowboys: 4-3
Last Week: No. 12
The Cowboys are riding high after their divisional win over the Redskins, but things are uncertain for running back Ezekiel Elliott. Zeke is again facing his six game suspension and the Cowboys season rides on the final decision. At this point in the season, the suspension couldn’t come at a worse time as the Cowboys have a rough stretch of games coming up as they make a push for a playoff berth.
No. 12: Houston Texans: 3-4
Last Week: No. 8
This Deshaun Watson-led offense is unreal but the defense is falling apart due to injuries. The once elite defense gave up 41 points to the struggling Seahawks offense, showing how much damage the injuries to JJ Watt and Whitney Mercilus has done. Perhaps the acquisition of CB Jeremy Lane can shore up the secondary.
No. 13: Atlanta Falcons: 4-3
Last Week: No. 15
The Falcons barely won against the Jets on Sunday as offensive struggles continued to haunt the team. From dropped passes to simply being unable to get anything going, the Falcons looked inept. Maybe it was just the weather, but it is still a concern. Now the Falcons have a very key divisional battle against the 5-3 Panthers that may shake up the NFC South.
No. 14: Washington Redskins: 3-4
Last Week: No. 13
The Redskins’ injured offensive line was exposed in their loss to the Cowboys on Sunday. The Redskins defense did not help much either, as they gave up 150 yards and 2 touchdowns to the embattled Ezekiel Elliott. The Redskins are having issues on both sides of the ball, but at least Kirk Cousins has one less potential landing spot as the Niners got their QB of the future.
No. 15: Baltimore Ravens: 4-4
Last Week: No. 25
The Ravens made a statement to the Dolphins, scoring 40 points, including two defensive touchdowns. The Ravens shut the Dolphins out in a spectacular way and they showed that their defense is powerful, but the injury to Flacco will hurt them next week.
No. 16: Los Angeles Chargers: 3-5
Last Week: No. 16
The Chargers didn’t get blown out by the Patriots, staying in the game until the very end. This game could have been very different if not for a beyond-poor decision by Travis Benjamin that resulted in a safety. The Chargers have a bye week to recover from some injuries, including to Melvin Gordon, who played through turf toe on Sunday.
No. 17: Oakland Raiders: 3-5
Last Week: No. 14
Things are not going well for the Raiders as their playoff hopes are escaping quickly in a division that the Chiefs are running away with. The offense has been struggling, but maybe the return of Marshawn Lynch can bring life back. Either way, things are looking ugly for the Raiders.
No. 18: Detroit Lions: 3-4
Last Week: No. 17
Matthew Stafford had over 400 yards passing but zero touchdowns. In fact, nobody could find the endzone against the Steelers. Red zone offense was a real problem, featuring multiple end zone drops and poor play calling on the part of the Lions. The Lions started off hot, but are starting to lose playoff hopes as they continue to lose games.
No. 19: Tennessee Titans: 4-3
Last Week: No. 19
Before their bye week, the Titans had been struggling in the passing game, but Corey Davis returns this week. Perhaps the return of the rookie receiver will jolt some life into this offense.
No. 20: Carolina Panthers: 5-3
Last Week: No. 22
The offense didn’t exactly play well against the very poor Buccaneers defense. The defense, however, did play well; holding the Bucs to just three points. The Panthers have a strong record, but poor play has been holding them back recently, and Cam Newton’s play should be concerning.
No. 21: Denver Broncos: 3-4
Last Week: No. 20
The Broncos were not able to beat the Chiefs. The blame should not be placed on the defense, but, rather, on the offense — Trevor Siemian specifically. Siemian played awfully, throwing three bad interceptions. The running game was spectacular, but the passing game has been really bad under Siemian. Maybe hope lies in Osweiler? Or maybe in Lynch once his shoulder is healed.
No. 22: Cincinnati Bengals: 3-4
Last Week: No. 23
The Bengals barely scraped past the Colts this week, which is concerning. The offense is still unable to run the ball successfully because the blocking hasn’t been there for rookie Joe Mixon. The defense has been playing well lately, but the offense is going to have to come around to compete with the Ravens and Steelers.
No. 23: Chicago Bears: 3-5
Last Week: No. 18
The Bears’ defense played pretty well against the Saints, but fell short on account of a stagnant offense. Mitch Trubisky’s lack of receiving weapons is showing as the rookie can’t seem to make any plays. Dontrelle Inman is an upgrade, but likely not significant enough to help the rookie.
No. 24: Miami Dolphins: 4-3
Last Week: No. 21
This team is interesting — their play and ability seem to fluctuate week-to-week. This week, they got absolutely obliterated by the Ravens’ defense, losing 0-40 on Thursday night. They do have a winning record, so they are still very well in the playoff race, but it will be a tough road ahead with the kind of play that we have seen so far.
No. 25: Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 2-5
Last Week: No. 24
It doesn’t get much worse than coming into this year as a division contender and ending up 2-5, well behind your division leaders. While things seem awful for the Bucs, the season is not over. n order to recover, they will need to step up and get on a win streak fast.
No. 26: New York Jets: 3-5
Last Week: No. 28
What a game the Jets had against Atlanta on Sunday! It seemed like a game that could be anybody’s, as neither team could gain a considerable lead. In the end though, the Jets lost and are trailing in a division where the Bills are 5-2 and the Patriots are 6-2.
No. 27: Arizona Cardinals 3-4:
Last Week: No. 26
Again, this bye couldn’t really help this team as it did not bring back Carson Palmer. They would need a new QB and offensive line if they are to even consider being contenders in their division.
No. 28: Green Bay Packers: 4-3
Last Week: No. 27
This bye likely didn’t help much except for providing extra preparation for Brett Hundley’s new life as a starter. The Packers will have to start winning, which, without Rodgers, is a pretty difficult task that will require the run game to make improvements and carry this team.
No. 29: New York Giants: 1-6
Last Week: No. 29
Not much can really be done for the Giants during their bye week, as they have essentially no chance of making the playoffs in a division where the Eagles are 7-1. At least next year they will be able to get a high draft pick and return the talent that is is mostly on IR right now.
No. 30: Indianapolis Colts: 2-6
Last Week: No. 30
The Colts seem to be their own worst enemy as they couldn’t preserve their fourth quarter lead to get the win. The Colts are in a weird place, as they are also putting TY Hilton and Vontae Davis up on the trade block. The hope is that they can get some draft stock in exchange for them so that they might build for the future.
No. 31: San Francisco 49ers: 0-8
Last Week: No. 31
The Niners faced the best team in the NFL on Sunday, so can they really be blamed for the loss? The defense seems to be improving, as it held Carson Wentz in check for a good portion of the game, but they did inevitably fall apart. There is some hope for their first win as they face a devastated Cardinals team trying to find its way without their starting QB, as well as the fact that the Niners found their QB of the future in Jimmy G.
No. 32: Cleveland Browns: 0-8
Last Week: No. 32
Did anyone really think (other than Believeland fans) that the Browns were going to hang on to their halftime lead and beat the Vikings? The Browns ultimately lost as they were outscored by the Vikings 21-3 in the second half. Kizer can’t truly be blamed for the loss, and should in fact be given credit that he didn’t turn the ball over against the elite Vikings defense.