Christian McCaffrey NFL Carolina Panthers
Christian McCaffrey. (Photo: Getty Images)

1. New Orleans Saints (10-1) Def. Atlanta 31-17. Last Week: 1

The Saints' tenth victory in a row completed a season sweep over the Falcons. This one was over a lot sooner than their earlier 43-37 win. Four players caught their first touchdowns of 2018 in this game for New Orleans, so maybe they’re more focused on finding their sixth weapon in the passing game then they are their second or third.

Their defense, often the afterthought, shut Atlanta down on the ground as Tevin Coleman and Ito Smith combined to carry the ball 12 times for six yards.

2. Los Angeles Rams (10-1) Bye. Last Week: 2

 

Everyone needed a while to rest up after that Monday Night game right? The Rams return to action against Detroit. Their toughest remaining matchup is a trip to Chicago, but the rest of the schedule (games against the Lions, Eagles, Cardinals, and 49ers) makes jumping ahead of the Saints for home field advantage look possible - if New Orleans ever loses again.

3. Kansas City Chiefs (9-2) Bye. Last Week: 3

Kansas City leaves the bye with their own quest for home-field advantage. They have the first seed in the AFC at the moment, but an earlier loss to New England means staying ahead of the Patriots is a must. The first of two games against Oakland comes this weekend, but the tougher tasks are games against the Ravens, Chargers, and Seahawks.

4. New England Patriots (8-3) Def. NY Jets 27-13. Last Week: 5

The Patriots welcomed Rob Gronkowski back to the starting lineup early. The tight end grabbed his first touchdown reception since opening weekend on a 34-yard score that he ripped away from defenders to start the scoring for New England. It was Gronkowski’s first action in almost a month as he battles injuries. Sony Michel reignited the Patriots’ rushing attack, leading the way with 133 of the team’s 215 yards on the ground.

5. Houston Texans (8-3) Def. Tennessee 34-17. Last Week: 6

The Texans own the second-longest winning streak in the NFL after the Saints; it now reaches eight games. Lamar Miller had his best day of the season against Tennessee. His 162 yards rushing spearheaded 281 on the ground for Houston and included a 97-yard score. Miller previously had a 97-yard touchdown with Miami; he’s the only player in NFL history with two rushing scores that long.

6. Chicago Bears (8-3) Def. Detroit 23-16. Last Week: 7

Chase Daniel started for the injured Mitchell Trubisky and threw two touchdown passes while carrying the Chicago offense to their fifth straight win on a day where the Bears normally potent rushing attack gained just 38 yards. Sophomore safety Eddie Jackson did the rest of the scoring work on defense, scoring on a pick six for the second week in a row.

7. Los Angeles Chargers (8-3) Def. Arizona 45-10. Last Week: 8

Philip Rivers had the most accurate passing day in NFL history as the Chargers picked apart the Cardinals to waste no time getting back in the win column. Rivers completed his first 25 passes of the game (one NFL record) and finished 28-of-29 (another NFL record) on the day. Now for the bad news: Melvin Gordon’s MCL sprain seems set to take him out of the Charger backfield for a few weeks.

8. Pittsburgh Steelers (7-3-1) Lost to Denver 24-17. Last Week: 4

The Steelers turned in a classic underwhelming performance against an underdog opponent in Denver. Four turnovers shut the door on their six-game winning streak, despite big stat days from Ben Roethlisberger (452 yards passing) and JuJu Smith-Schuster (189 of those yards, including a 97-yard touchdown.) Pittsburgh has also moved away from the running game as James Conner, who had had four straight 100-yard games, has just 143 yards rushing over the past three weeks.

9. Indianapolis Colts (6-5) Def. Miami 27-24. Last Week: 9

A rare sight in the NFL: the Colts won despite losing the turnover battle three to one. It helps when you outgain your opponents 455-314 too. Andrew Luck continued his streak of three touchdown games, now at eight. The Colts also extended their streak of wins to five straight, despite a 10 point fourth quarter hole. They’ll get first crack this week at new Jaguars quarterback Cody Kessler.

10. Seattle Seahawks (6-5) Def. Carolina 30-27. Last Week: 12

Russell Wilson was kept clean for most of the day for once and the quarterback delivered, with 339 yards passing, a pair of scores, no turnovers, and a late drive to win the game. If healthy, Chris Carson remains the go-to-guy in the Seattle backfield. He has 33 touches over the last two games since returning to the lineup.

11. Minnesota Vikings (6-4-1) Def. Green Bay 24-17. Last Week: 11

The Vikings haven’t had the running game most expected with the return of Dalvin Cook this season, and after another game where he and Latavius Murray struggled to reach three yards a carry, it’s probably wise to accept that that is the norm, not the aberration. But you also have to accept that the Vikings have the passing attack to overcome that. Adam Thielen, Stefon Diggs, and Cook were all on the receiving end of touchdown throws this week.

12. Dallas Cowboys (6-5) Def. Washington 31-23. Last Week: 14

The Cowboys' third-straight win had plenty of starring roles to go around. The biggest was Amari Cooper, who had 180 yards receiving and two touchdowns. In his four games with Dallas, Cooper has 349 yards and three scores. In his six games prior to coming over from Oakland, he had just 280 yards and one touchdown, with 244 of those yards coming from two games.

13. Baltimore Ravens (6-5) Def. Oakland 34-17. Last Week: 16

Lamar Jackson’s second career start was also his second career win. The biggest beneficiary of Jackson’s success has been Gus Edwards. The running back has back-to-back 100-yard efforts in Jackson’s starts, with Jackson running for another 71 yards alongside him on Sunday. It’s looking more and more like Baltimore will find some way to keep the rookie involved when Joe Flacco returns.

14. Carolina Panthers (6-5) Lost to Seattle 30-27. Last Week: 10

The Panthers’ once-rosy outlook on the playoffs has come into a lot harsher focus after three straight losses. Back-to-back last-second defeats have them on the outside looking in, and only the wildcard spots represent a realistic goal while the Saints run away with their division. This loss wasted a 237-yard effort by Christian McCaffrey, whose production has not dropped despite the losing streak.

15. Washington (6-5) Lost to Dallas 31-23. Last Week: 13

Washington’s first game without quarterback Alex Smith could have not gone worse. They lost the game and their hold on first place in the division to Dallas, and replacement Colt McCoy’s three interceptions had a lot to do with it. But they were in the game, and there’s no reason to write them off quite yet in such a win challenged division.

16. Green Bay Packers (4-6-1) Lost to Minnesota 24-17. Last Week: 15

The Packers’ offense was already suffering from injuries and took a wrecking ball to both the receiving corps and offensive line in this game. Healthy or not - but especially when not - it looks like the Packers have enough to separate them from the truly bad teams in the NFL - while also being pretty significantly separated from the true contenders. But hey, this week they play the Cardinals.

17. Denver Broncos (5-6) Def. Pittsburgh 24-17. Last Week: 21

Case Keenum turned in a vintage 2017 performance (two touchdowns, no turnovers) and the Broncos opportunistic defense got four turnovers to steal a game where they allowed Pittsburgh 528 yards, but only two touchdowns. It’s a bit late now in Denver, but ruining back-to-back six-game win streaks? (They ended the Chargers’ impressive run a week ago.) That has to feel pretty good.

18. Tennessee Titans (5-6) Lost to Houston 34-17. Last Week: 17

Philip Rivers’ day might take all the spotlight, but Marcus Mariota managed to complete 19 straight passes on the way to a 22-of-23 day of his own. And somehow, the Titans lost by three scores. They’ve lost their second-straight in the division now to a pair of rivals that have won eight (Houston) and five (Indianapolis) straight. It’s not the side you want to be on.

19. Miami Dolphins (5-6) Lost to Indianapolis 27-24. Last Week: 19

Ryan Tannehill’s first appearance since Oct. 7 almost brought a win to the Dolphins. Instead, the team surrendered a 10-point fourth quarter lead to drop their fourth game of five and fall below .500 for the first time this season. This week against Buffalo could right the ship, or drop Miami even further down the AFC East standings.

20. Cleveland Browns (4-6-1) Def. Cincinnati 35-20. Last Week: 25

Nick Chubb gave his former head coach another view of what he could do with 128 total yards and a pair of scores - one a leaping touchdown catch around the back of a Bengal defender. Baker Mayfield had four touchdown passes - a Browns rookie record - as Cleveland narrowly avoided a much worse record for road losses in a row. Their streak ends at 25.

21. Philadelphia Eagles (5-6) Def. NY Giants 25-22. Last Week: 23

The Eagles have to hope this game against the Giants will become a microcosm of their season. They dug a hole with sloppy play and mistakes before righting the ship in the second half - where the defense only allowed three points. Josh Adams might also be what the running game needs too. The undrafted rookie from Notre Dame has 245 yards rushing in the last four games.

22. Cincinnati Bengals (5-6) Lost to Cleveland 35-20. Last Week: 18

Andy Dalton’s injury isn’t much of an excuse once you’ve already gotten yourselves down 35-7 to Cleveland. His trip to the injured reserve does do a ton of damage to the rest of Cincinnati’s season, however. Almost as much as dropping five of six games after beginning 4-1.

23. Atlanta Falcons (4-7) Lost to New Orleans 31-17. Last Week: 20

The division is now mathematically impossible. A run at any playoff spot is looking less likely each week with the Falcons having lost three-straight since clawing their way back to .500. Damontae Kazee got his league-leading sixth interception and became just the second player to intercept Drew Brees this season.

24. Detroit Lions (4-7) Lost to Chicago 23-16. Last Week: 22

LeGarrette Blount had failed to reach two yards a carry in four straight games and had 13 carries for five yards in the previous two, but ran for 88 yards and a pair of scores in his first game replacing the injured Kerryon Johnson.

25. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-7) Def. San Francisco 27-9. Last Week: 29

The rare zero interception day means the Buccaneers might go two weeks in a row with Jameis Winston remaining the starting quarterback. Tampa Bay even got off to a comfortable enough lead for once, as they were able to limp their way over the 100-yard mark on the ground (leading rusher Peyton Barber averaged 2.6 yards per carry so, yes, limp.)

26. Buffalo Bills (4-7) Def. Jacksonville 24-21. Last Week: 26

It seems a little forced to claim the Bills took advantage of Jacksonville’s mistakes when they committed 13 penalties of their own and saw Shaq Lawson ejected. They did have more positives, however, with Josh Allen moving to 3-3 as the Bills’ starter and leading the team with 99 yards on the ground.

27. New York Giants (3-8) Lost to Philadelphia 25-22. Last Week: 27

The Giants had their way with Philadelphia for much of the first half, especially after Saquon Barkley scored his second touchdown on a 51-yard run. They led 19-3 at that point and looked on pace for their third-straight win. Then, the Giants inexplicably forgot Barkley. The running back, who had 364 yards in his first six quarters this season against the Eagles, had five touches in the second half.

28. Jacksonville Jaguars (3-8) Lost to Buffalo 24-21. Last Week: 24

He was far from the only problem in a game where Leonard Fournette got ejected and the Jaguars committed 10 penalties, but Blake Bortles has been benched as the Jacksonville quarterback. With 13 touchdown passes but 10 interceptions and seven fumbles in 2018, the third overall pick in the 2014 draft is being replaced by Cody Kessler as the Jaguars look to snap a seven-game losing streak against the Colts.

29. New York Jets (3-8) Lost to New England 27-13. Last Week: 28

The bye week wasn’t enough to get Sam Darnold ready for action, so Josh McCown started again against New England. The rookie might not have made much of a difference against the Patriots, though he may next week against Tennessee. Of course, probably not as much of one as which version of the Titans shows up.

30. Oakland Raiders (2-9) Lost to Baltimore 34-17. Last Week: 30

Believe it or not, the Raiders had a hard time bringing Lamar Jackson down. They also had a hard time passing the football and rushing the football. They did manage two interceptions. Things probably aren’t going to get a lot better this week against the Chiefs, whom, fun fact: they still get to play twice.

31. Arizona Cardinals (2-9) Lost to LA Chargers 45-10. Last Week: 31

You know when you know somebody has been really good at something for a really long time? Larry Fitzgerald has now caught touchdowns in 41 different stadiums in the NFL.

32. San Francisco 49ers (2-9) Lost to Tampa Bay 27-9. Last Week: 32

The 49ers put a stop to the Buccaneers' four-game losing streak, but their owntwo-gamee skid since beating the Raiders looks likely to continue in Seattle.
 

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