1. New Orleans Saints (9-1) Def. Philadelphia 48-7. Last Week: 1
Rookie Tre’Quan Smith had 12 catches for 214 yards over the season’s first 10 weeks. On Sunday, he torched the Eagles for a career-high 10 receptions and 157 yards. If the Saints, who have struggled to find a consistent threat at wide receiver opposite Michael Thomas so much that they briefly kicked the tires on Dez Bryant, can count on Smith then the last weak link in this scary good offense goes away.
2. Los Angeles Rams (10-1) Def. Kansas City 54-51. Last Week: 2
The Rams won the third-highest scoring game in NFL history and the first where both teams reached 50 points on the scoreboard. In the end, it was because of their defense – and we stress, at the very, very end. But nevertheless, it was Marcus Peters, traded from the Chiefs to the Rams this offseason, who intercepted Patrick Mahomes on the Chiefs’ last real drive. Surprisingly, during the most offensive game of the season, Todd Gurley had his quietest day with no scores and only 94 total yards as the passing games took center stage.
3. Kansas City Chiefs (9-2) Lost to LA Rams 54-51. Last Week: 3
Has a quarterback ever thrown for 478 yards and six touchdowns before and taken a hit in the MVP standings? And has a quarterback ever thrown for 478 yards and six touchdowns before? The answers to both of those questions would be yes.
Patrick Mahomes second six touchdown game this season leaves him on pace for 54 passing touchdowns, one off the single-season record set by Peyton Manning. But his two late interceptions also left him with five turnovers, and the Chiefs with their second loss.
4. Pittsburgh Steelers (7-2-1) Def. Jacksonville 20-16. Last Week: 4
Jacksonville beat the Steelers twice last season, ultimately ending their season in the playoffs. But Pittsburgh may have just returned the favor early as their comeback victory happened on a lot of levels. After being shutout in the first half, Antonio Brown finished with 117 yards and a touchdown. Also, the team ran for 26 yards on 11 attempts, but their final rush was a game-winning one-yard score by Ben Roethlisberger.
5. New England Patriots (7-3) Bye. Last Week: 5
With the whole AFC East on bye, there were no changes in the standings to speak of. Technically, the Dolphins remain just two games behind the Patriots, but New England’s lead in the division looks as safe as ever. They’ve had an extra week to stew over their loss to Tennessee, and now the Jets get to feel their wrath.
6. Houston Texans (7-3) Def. Washington 23-21. Last Week: 7
This one wasn’t pretty, but when you’ve won seven in a row they can’t all be. That’s where Houston stands after starting 0-3. They might just have to keep it up ahead of the almost equally hot Colts. Rookie safety Justin Reid’s 101-yard interception return was the difference against Washington on Sunday and the kind of play that keeps winning streaks rolling.
7. Chicago Bears (7-3) Def. Minnesota 25-20. Last Week: 9
Khalil Mack finally got back in the strip sack column. That’s mostly sarcasm, however, as Mack’s was just one of three turnovers forced by (and another three committed by) the Bears Sunday night. It was an ugly game, but the celebrations sure were pretty. Chicago definitely took the lead in choreographed team celebrations this season. They’ve also built a nice lead in the NFC North, with the Lions on Thanksgiving next on the menu.
8. Los Angeles Chargers (7-3) Lost to Denver 23-22. Last Week: 6
The difference this season in the Chargers was the fact that they were winning all the close games they got themselves into: six in a row until this one. Sunday’s loss to Denver was all the more damaging once the Chiefs lost on Monday night. It wasn’t the debut they wanted this season for Joey Bosa, but the Chargers still look safe in the standings at the top of the AFC wild-card – unless they make these games a new habit.
9. Indianapolis Colts (5-5) Def. Tennessee 38-10. Last Week: 16
In the midst of a seven-game streak of at least three touchdowns a game, Andrew Luck is somehow quietly on pace for 46 touchdown passes. The Colts are in the middle of their own four-game winning streak, and the return of the quarterback who was the most promising in the game a few years ago is the biggest reason why. This win gave kicker Adam Vinatieri his 210th career regular-season victory, the most by any player in history.
10. Carolina Panthers (6-4) Lost to Detroit 20-19. Last Week: 10
Two point conversions are great when they work. The Panthers are still in the driver’s seat in the NFC wild-card race, but they’ve lost two in a row for the first time this season. Hosting Seattle this week would be an absolutely terrible time to make it three in a row, especially when you consider Carolina still has two games against the Saints remaining.
11. Minnesota Vikings (5-4-1) Lost to Chicago 25-20. Last Week: 8
A 17-point fourth quarter made it look better, but this was the Vikings’ worst defeat since their Week 2 debacle against Buffalo. The Bears became the clear favorites in the division by forcing turnovers and holding the Vikings to 22 rushing yards on 14 carries. Dalvin Cook, in his second game back from injury, finished with ten yards and a lost fumble.
12. Seattle Seahawks (5-5) Def. Green Bay 27-24. Last Week: 15
It’s still Chris Carson’s backfield. Seattle avoided their first three-game losing streak since before the Legion of Boom era began to remain in the thick of the wild-card race in the NFC. They can do some major help to their playoff campaign with another victory this week against the 6-4 Panthers, one of their major rivals for a playoff spot.
13. Washington (6-4) Lost to Houston 23-21. Last Week: 11
33 years to the day since Joe Theismann suffered one of the most famous injuries in sports Alex Smith’s gruesome leg injury ended his season and threw Washington’s into question. Colt McCoy threw a touchdown in relief of Smith, and Washington has since signed Mark Sanchez. If they want to show they’re still contenders, they can start with a win in Dallas on Thanksgiving Day.
14. Dallas Cowboys (5-5) Def. Atlanta 22-19. Last Week: 17
Right on the heels of Washington, Dallas is the team Alex Smith’s injury opens the most doors for. Winners of two in a row and hosts of Washington on Thanksgiving, the Cowboys can move into a tie for first place in the division with a victory. It looks like Dallas is peaking at the right time. Dak Prescott has five touchdowns and only one interception in the last five games. He also has zero picks in Dallas’ five wins this season.
15. Green Bay Packers (4-5-1) Lost to Seattle 27-24. Last Week: 12
It was too little, too early for Green Bay in Seattle last Thursday. The Packers lost a 14-3 first quarter lead to move to 0-5 on the road this season. If that doesn’t change against the Vikings this week, they’ll be in even worse shape than they already are in the playoff race, staring two games up at Minnesota and even further at Chicago.
16. Baltimore Ravens (5-5) Def. Cincinnati 24-21. Last Week: 19
Joe Flacco’s injury opened the door for Lamar Jackson to become the fifth first-round quarterback to start as a rookie this season – an NFL record. Jackson showed exactly why the Ravens traded back into the first round to get him with 117 rushing yards on a shocking 27 carries in his debut.
17. Tennessee Titans (5-5) Lost to Indianapolis 38-10. Last Week: 13
The Titans continue their season as the most frustrating team to rank. A week after blowing out the Patriots, they were dominated by their division rivals and fell to 0-10 against Andrew Luck in the quarterback’s career. They also lost their own quarterback in this game, but it doesn’t look like Marcus Mariota will miss any time going forward.
18. Cincinnati Bengals (5-5) Lost to Baltimore 24-21. Last Week: 14
The Bengals wasted no time hiring Hue Jackson as an assistant coach after he was cut loose by the Browns. That means there’ll be an incredibly short time between Jackson’s firing and the first time facing his old team: Cincinnati hosts Cleveland this week.
19. Miami Dolphins (5-5) Bye. Last Week: 20
Following their bye week, Ryan Tannehill is practicing again. If the quarterback returns this week it will be against the Colts, and Miami is likely to need him to have any hope of keeping up with the aerial onslaught that has been Andrew Luck of late.
20. Atlanta Falcons (4-6) Lost to Dallas 22-19. Last Week: 21
After letting another one slip away at home against the Cowboys, Atlanta’s hopes of returning to the playoffs are looking slim. They got there last season with a big hot streak to close the year out, and another one is necessary in 2018. It will probably be even more necessary after they face the Saints on Thanksgiving night.
21. Denver Broncos (4-6) Def. LA Chargers 23-22. Last Week: 26
Brandon McManus’ foot ended two streaks Sunday: the Chargers had won six games in a row and the Broncos had lost six of seven before his last-second field goal sent Denver home winners.
22. Detroit Lions (4-6) Def. Carolina 20-19. Last Week: 27
The Lions rebounded from a disastrous outing against Chicago to break a three-game losing streak. Now they get another crack at the Bears, but they’ll likely have to do it without rookie running back Kerryon Johnson. He has 416 rushing yards in Detroit’s four wins this season.
23. Philadelphia Eagles (4-6) Lost to New Orleans 48-7. Last Week: 18
The worst loss by a defending Super Bowl Champion in history leads to the worst ranking for a defending Super Bowl Champion in these rankings. It’s been a free fall for the Eagles this season, and while it’s hard to believe Sunday in New Orleans wasn’t them bottoming out, injuries have left them searching for bodies to line up at cornerback.
24. Jacksonville Jaguars (3-7) Lost to Pittsburgh 20-16. Last Week: 22
The Jacksonville defense looked revitalised before allowing two straight touchdown drives to lose a 16-0 lead and end the game. Jalen Ramsey had two spectacular interceptions and the Jaguars held the AFC’s leading rusher, James Conner to 25 yards.
25. Cleveland Browns (3-6-1) Bye. Last Week: 23
As mentioned above, the Browns are getting their first shot at their former head coach this week. Think Nick Chubb (261 rushing yards in the two games since Hue Jackson and Todd Haley were let go) is eager to show what he can do?
26. Buffalo Bills (3-7) Bye. Last Week: 24
Even if the Bills broke out for 41 points the last time they played, don’t expect many offensive fireworks this week when they host Jacksonville as Matt Barkley and Blake Bortles face off.
27. New York Giants (3-7) Def. Tampa Bay 38-35. Last Week: 30
Get the run game going and everything else will follow: Saquon Barkley had a career-best 142 yards rushing and three scores, while Eli Manning completed 17-of-18 passes. The Giants defense – suddenly playing with a lead for once – racked up four turnovers and the whole team got their second win in as many weeks.
28. New York Jets (3-7) Bye. Last Week: 28
The bye week should have helped, but Sam Darnold’s status for this week’s game against New England remains up in the air.
29. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-7) Lost to NY Giants 38-35. Last Week: 25
You’ll never guess which team is making a change at quarterback. After six interceptions in one-and-a-half starts, Ryan Fitzpatrick is back on the bench in favor of Jameis Winston. Maybe more consequential, O.J. Howard left the game with an ankle injury and was placed on IR.
30. Oakland Raiders (2-8) Def. Arizona 23-21. Last Week: 32
The Raiders’ five-game losing streak comes to an end as does their sole possession of the worst record in the NFL. They still have the worst record, now they’re just tied for it.
31. Arizona Cardinals (2-8) Lost to Oakland 23-21. Last Week: 29
David Johnson had 137 rushing yards, but his best run of the night, a 57-yard score, was called back on a holding call that proved to be the difference for Arizona.
32. San Francisco 49ers (2-8) Bye. Last Week: 31
Is it harsh to drop the 49ers to last place on a week where they didn’t even play? Maybe. Did they lose twice to the Cardinals this season? Yes.