New Orleans Saints NFL Mike Thomas
Saints WR Mike Thomas. (Photo: Getty Images)

1. New Orleans Saints (7-1) Def. LA Rams 45-35. Last Week: 4

 

To be the best you have to beat the best, right? The Saints became the first team to beat the Rams this season and in the process gained the longest win streak in the NFL at seven-straight victories. There are a lot of things to say about this team, but two things stand out: one, Drew Brees is completing an insane 76.3 percent of his passes. The NFL record, set by Brees last year is 72 percent. Second, Michael Thomas had an inspired celebration on Sunday, throwing it back to Joe Horn by pulling a cell phone out of the goal post.

 

2. Los Angeles Rams (8-1) Lost to New Orleans 45-35. Last Week: 1

 

If the '72 Dolphins are still breaking out the champagne, this was their week. The Rams fall from the ranks of the unbeatens but they won’t fall too far here. The most concerning things from the loss: getting away from Todd Gurley after falling behind and the secondary's vulnerability that led to things like Michael Thomas’ 72-yard score. That one came against Marcus Peters. Least concerning: it came in a shootout on the road against their best competition in the conference.

 

3. New England Patriots (7-2) Def. Green Bay 31-17. Last Week: 2

 

Tom Brady outdueled Aaron Rodgers (though it was Julian Edelman who would leave the field of play with the highest QB rating) and while James White found the end zone twice Cordarrelle Patterson is the newest star in the backfield for the Patriots. The converted receiver led the team with 61 yards rushing and got his own score.

4. Kansas City Chiefs (8-1) Def. Cleveland 37-21. Last Week: 3

Cleveland might not be the scariest place for a football team to visit, but the Kansas City offense is scary enough wherever it goes. Patrick Mahomes and Kareem Hunt are now doing their thing week in and week out. Mahomes had 375 yards and three scores. Hunt had three touchdowns, giving him seven in his last three games. And Travis Kelce caught Mahomes’ other two scoring strikes in his hometown.

5. Pittsburgh Steelers (5-2-1) Def. Baltimore 23-16. Last Week: 5

Sure, it was revenge against the Ravens, but it feels like the Steelers are out for revenge on the whole league. They haven’t lost since their last game against Baltimore, and now that is firmly in the rear view. What’s front and center is James Conner and Antonio Brown, setting franchise scoring records as the season rolls along.

6. Los Angeles Chargers (6-2) Def. Seattle 25-17. Last Week: 6

We’re familiar with touchdown snipers at running back, but at receiver? Mike Williams has two catches for 85 yards and two touchdowns in his last two games. On the season, he has five scores on just 18 catches. That’s interesting, but what will interest Charger fans further is five-straight victories. This one came in Philip Rivers 200th straight start. He’s just the fourth quarterback to reach that number.

7. Carolina Panthers (6-2) Def. Tampa Bay 42-28. Last Week: 8

Sunday may well have been a display of the weapons Carolina has on offense. They don’t get a lot of notice, but receivers Curtis Samuel and D.J. Moore both had 30-yard rushes as Samuel’s went for a touchdown. Christian McCaffrey and Greg Olsen got in on the fun too, but you already know about them.

8. Houston Texans (6-3) Def. Broncos 19-17. Last Week: 9

Demaryius Thomas was in a familiar setting Sunday, just on the wrong side of the line. The newest Texan played his first game for Houston against the team he’d started the last 114 games for. He had some early success: three catches for 61 yards, and some late miscues that the Texans managed to walk away from. 

9. Minnesota Vikings (5-3-1) Def. Detroit 24-9. Last Week: 10

By far the brightest spot on the Vikings offense this week was the return of Dalvin Cook. Cook finished with 109 total yards on 14 touches. Adam Thielen failed to reach 100 receiving yards for the first time this season but still found the end zone. And, oh yeah, Danielle Hunter had three-and-a-half of 10 sacks for the Vikings and scored on a fumble return.

10. Chicago Bears (5-3) Def. Buffalo 41-9. Last Week: 13

The second quarter was a good one for the Bears on Sunday. They scored two defensive touchdowns and found the end zone four total times to build a 28-0 halftime lead. That was the recipe for a blowout on a day as the offense only gained 190 total yards. The Bears now have five wins matching their total from a season ago.

11. Washington (5-3) Lost to Atlanta 38-14. Last Week: 7

Week 9 was a rough one for Washington, who came into it one of the hottest teams in football. But it is time to pick up the pieces and move onward. They’re still in first place in their division with two games left against their closest competition: Philadelphia. The season remains entirely in their hands.

12. Cincinnati Bengals (5-3) Bye. Last Week: 11

The Bengals return from their bye looking up at the Steelers in the divisional standings for the first time this season. That’s not a nice welcome back, but an even worse one might be the Saints coming to Cincinnati in Week 10.

13. Philadelphia Eagles (4-4) Bye. Last Week: 12

The Eagles return from their bye one game out of the division and eager to test their new toy at wide receiver out. Midseason trades will go up against each other when Golden Tate and the Eagles take on Amari Cooper and the Cowboys Week 10 in the first of five divisional games the Eagles still have to play.

14. Atlanta Falcons (4-4) Def. Washington 38-14. Last Week: 17

The Falcons' offense posted gaudy stats Sunday: four touchdown passes by Matt Ryan, Julio Jones’ first score of the year, and almost 500 total yards. But that’s been there all season. What showed up Sunday was a defense that shut Adrian Peterson down and sacked Alex Smith three times.

15. Seattle Seahawks (4-4) Lost to LA Chargers 25-17. Last Week: 14

The Seahawks lost Chris Carson to a hip injury during this game, but still managed to turn in 154 yards on the ground. What they couldn’t manage was to stop the oppositions rushing attack: Melvin Gordon reached 113 yards on just 16 carries.

16. Green Bay Packers (3-4-1) Lost to New England 31-17. Last Week: 16

Marquez Valdes-Scantling is looking like Aaron Rodgers’ newest threat at wide receiver. The rookie fifth-round pick has two 100-yard games in the Packers’ last three outings and 317 yards total in the last five.

17. Miami Dolphins (5-4) Def. NY Jets 13-6. Last Week: 20

It’s a lot prettier than a loss. The Dolphins gained just 168 yards against the Jets, but got the win on the performance of a defense that sacked Sam Darnold four times and created turnovers. Four different Dolphins intercepted Darnold Sunday.

18. Baltimore Ravens (4-5) Lost to Pittsburgh 23-16. Last Week: 15

The Ravens’ fortunes have gone a different direction than Pittsburgh’s since the last time these two teams met: they’ve now lost four of their last five games. Worse, they look no closer to finding a rushing game than they did when the season opened, and now the air attack has come back to Earth.

19. Indianapolis Colts (3-5) Bye. Last Week: 21

The Colts have won back-to-back games, each with huge efforts from Marlon Mack. They have to hope the bye week will have helped their young tailback recover from injury if they want to keep the streak going against Jacksonville.

20. Detroit Lions (3-5) Lost to Minnesota 24-9. Last Week: 19

Who knew Golden Tate was doing so much work in pass protection? The new look Lions allowed 10 sacks on Sunday against the Vikings. However, things weren’t any better on the ground. They averaged less than three yards a carry and finished with 66 total rushing yards.

21. Jacksonville Jaguars (3-5) Bye. Last Week: 23

The Jaguars have to hope that the bye week will have done something to jumpstart this disappointing season. They’re still just eight games removed from the AFC Championship game. Now they play the equally well-rested Colts.

22. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-5) Lost to Carolina 42-28. Last Week: 22

For the second week in a row, Ryan Fitzpatrick was dragging the Buccaneers out of a hole, though this time as the starting quarterback. While the quarterback and his interceptions share some of the blame, a lot has to be focused on the defense that let Carolina score 35 first-half points.

23. Tennessee Titans (4-4) Def. Dallas 28-14. Last Week: 26

Tennessee hasn’t been scoring touchdowns lately and it looked briefly like more of the same on Monday night after two Marcus Mariota fumbles. Two Mariota passing touchdowns and one Mariota rushing touchdown later however, there was a different story going on.

24. Dallas Cowboys (3-5) Lost to Titans 28-14. Last Week: 18

On one hand, Amari Cooper’s debut went well as the receiver the Cowboys just sent a first-round pick to Oakland for had five catches, 58 yards, and a touchdown. On the other, the Cowboys dropped a game to the struggling Titans and missed a chance to move within one game of Washington.

25. New York Jets (3-6) Lost to Miami 13-6. Last Week: 24

The Jets' defense did a lot, but not enough to overcome their offense’s turnover prone day. The struggles of the Jets’ passing game came despite Quincy Enunwa and Robby Anderson returning to action this week.

26. Denver Broncos (3-6) Lost to Houston 19-17. Last Week: 25

Brandon McManus missed twice (admittedly, one from 62-yards and another from 51) on Sunday, including a potential game-winner. Instead of the win, Denver heads into their bye with losses in two straight games and six of the last seven.

27. Cleveland Browns (2-6-1) Lost to Kansas City 37-21. Last Week: 27

Nick Chubb continued to show why the Browns traded Carlos Hyde, finishing with 85 yards and a score on 22 carries against the Chiefs. The other half of the Browns’ backfield did his damage through the air as Duke Johnson led the team with 78 yards receiving and caught both Baker Mayfield touchdown passes on the day.

28. Arizona Cardinals (2-6) Bye. Last Week: 28

Can’t they just play the 49ers every week? Instead of taking on the team they’re 2-0 against, the Cardinals will return from the bye in Kansas City. So, you know, almost the same thing.

29. San Francisco 49ers (2-7) Def. Oakland 34-3. Last Week: 32

Undrafted rookie Nick Mullens had a 151.9 quarterback rating in his NFL debut, the highest rating since the NFL merger from any QB to attempt at least 15 passes in his first game. He also threw for 262 yards and three touchdowns if you’re into those more pedestrian stats.

30. Buffalo Bills (2-7) Lost to Chicago 41-9. Last Week: 29

Returning to the starting role, Nathan Peterman threw three interceptions and the Bills went another week without a scoring strike through the air. Peterman, the Bills’ leading rusher with 46 yards, did find the end zone on the ground.

31. New York Giants (1-7) Bye. Last Week: 31

One week after the 49ers starred on Thursday Night Football, they’ll host the Giants on Monday Night Football. This time the two teams will have combined for three wins, not just two.

32. Oakland Raiders (1-7) Lost to San Francisco 34-3. Last Week: 30

It’s doubtful the NFL got the Thursday night primetime matchup they were envisioning when the Raiders and 49ers met with a combined record of 2-13 last week. At least the Raiders delivered.