By Angelo Inglisa.
A tie between the Cardinals and the Seahawks truly summed up what happened throughout Week 7. Up is down, left is right, the most complete team in the NFL might be the Cowboys. Yup, just as we all expected.
The Patriots seem to be running away with the AFC, with the Raiders and Broncos fighting for that AFC West Title. The AFC North is currently worse than the AFC South, and it seems like no one wants the 6-seed except for the Chiefs.
In the NFC, the Eagles defense snuffed the life out of Minnesota’s winning streak, and the NFC East may be among the league’s top divisions. Oh yeah, and last years' NFC Champs are 1-5 coming out of the bye, 2.5 games back of the NFC South-leading Falcons, who are in the middle of their yearly midseason swoon.
The 2016 NFL season is probably the most unpredictable season there’s ever been, with the only constant being that Cleveland is terrible. With that in mind, onward to my Week 7 Power Rankings.
Biggest Riser: Oakland Raiders (12->6)
Biggest Faller: Washington Redskins (9->14), Houston Texans (13->18)
1.) New England Patriots (+1)
In a year where parity is at an all-time high, it helps to have arguably the best Coach-QB combo in league history. Tom Brady, despite missing the first four games due to suspension, is the current favorite to take home the MVP Award.
2.) Denver Broncos (+2)
The Broncos rushing game finally came back to life, combining with the elite defense to smother the Texans. Both CJ Anderson and Devontae Booker went for 80 yards and a score, but with Anderson banged up, Denver will have to lean on the rookie Booker to pick up the slack.
3.) Minnesota Vikings (-2)
Apparently, only the defense showed up to Philly last Sunday, forcing four turnovers and limiting the Eagles to 239 total yards and 13 points. Unfortunately, the offense only mustered 10 points and gave the ball back three times, along with the special teams yielding a kick return and fumbling on their own.
4.) Seattle Seahawks (-1)
Seattle tied, so they probably shouldn’t move down. But considering that they let Arizona march into field goal territory, lucked out, then marched down the field for their own game-winning score, only to have the third most accurate kicker shank an old-school extra point, a move down seems apt.
5.) Dallas Cowboys (+/-0)
I hope the Cowboys watched the Vikings-Eagles game last week. The Eagles defense was swarming, and Dak Prescott finally committed a couple of turnovers two weeks ago in Green Bay. In a tight NFC East, this game will have playoff implications.
6.) Oakland Raiders (+6)
This is less about who the beat and more about recognizing that this team turned a corner. They beat up fellow preseason darling Jacksonville and finally saw Latavius Murray re-emerge. Jack Del Rio still has to tune up the defense if they want to go blow for blow with the Broncos.
7.) Green Bay Packers (+1)
Ty Montgomery proved to be a spark to this offense, both as a receiver and as a running back. The multi-tool player has 230 yards over the past two weeks, and with a softer schedule on the horizon, the Packers should make a run at the Seahawks and Cowboys in the next month.
8.) Atlanta Falcons (-2)
It’s starting to feel like 2015. Granted, the Falcons have dropped the past two games by a combined five points, it still has to scare a team that started 6-1 last year and finished 7-9. I still think this year's team will be just fine.
9.) Philadelphia Eagles (+5)
Talk about a statement. The Eagles defense stepped up in this one in a huge way, with rookie QB Carson Wentz still struggling to recapture his early season swagger. Wentz has thrown for only 317 yards and 1 TD in the past 2 weeks.
10.) Pittsburgh Steelers (-3)
The Steelers are reeling, and Ben Roethlisberger probably won’t be able to save them for a while. Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Brown did their darndest, but Landry Jones can only take them so far. Fortunately, the AFC North as a whole is struggling, so taking their lumps now is a good a time as any.
11.) Arizona Cardinals (+/-0)
Great news: The defense completely stunted the Seahawks’ offense. Bad news: Even with David Johnson running amok, the Cards only mustered six points. Carson Palmer looks like a literal statue at QB, but unfortunately, a statue is the best option they have.
12.) Kansas City Chiefs (+3)
The Chiefs have to be the quietest 4-2 team in recent memory. Spencer Ware is single-handedly carrying the Chiefs offense, both through the air and on the ground. He’s gone over 75 yards rushing and 30-yard receiving in his last two games, which has completely dampened the slow recovery of Jamaal Charles.
13.) Buffalo Bills (-3)
What on Earth possessed Rex Ryan to play a dinged up LeSean McCoy Sunday? Now he’s hurt, and the Bills have to be reeling following that beatdown from Miami. With three playoff teams from last year on deck, the McCoy’s injury couldn’t have come at a worse time.
14.) Washington Redskins (-5)
The Redskins can blame Skip Bayless’ premature tweet. The defense, which has done well this year, buckled in that last minute of play, letting Matthew Stafford march down the field for the game-winning score. The bright side of this loss was Kirk Cousins having an amazing game and is looking like recapturing last season’s magic.
15.) New York Giants (+1)
The Giants offense decided not to show up last week. Luckily, neither did Case Keenum. The Giants need to use this bye to figure out this offense, otherwise, they’re heading nowhere fast.
16.) Tampa Bay Buccaneers (+3)
The Buccaneers have silently crept up behind the Falcons, now only half a game back in the NFC South. Jacquizz Rodgers has really spurned this offense, totaling 280 yards on the ground on a healthy 56 carries.
17.) Detroit Lions (+3)
Another week gone, another week not knowing what these Lions are. Matthew Stafford has really carried this team this season, with 15 TDs to four INTs to go with five games of 250 yards passing.
18.) Houston Texans (-5)
There’s not really much to say about this team, their best player is hurt and the offense is anemic. Ever want to see a flaming pile of $72 million? Watch Brock Osweiler play football.
19.) Cincinnati Bengals (-1)
I’d like to say they’re back on track, with A.J. Green, Brandon LaFell, Jeremy Hill and Giovani Bernard all having solid games. But unfortunately, the team they had solid games against were the Browns, so what’s it really worth?
20.) Baltimore Ravens (-3)
The Ravens offense reverted to its early season form, proving incapable of running the football. Joe Flacco’s shoulder also gave him fits, letting him down at the end of the game. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that he hasn’t thrown less than 40 passes in a game since Week 1.
21.) San Diego Chargers (+5)
The Charges seemed to have finally figured out the fourth quarter, pulling out an overtime victory against the Falcons. Tyrell Williams has really stepped up in the absence of Keenan Allen, averaging 17 yards per catch on 31 catches.
22.) New Orleans Saints (-1)
23.) Carolina Panthers (-1)
Unless the Panthers were able to clone several Cam Newtons and Luke Kuechlys to play cornerback and offensive tackle, I can’t really expect Carolina to make the playoffs. With upcoming games against Arizona, Kansas City, Oakland and Seattle, the Panthers would have to go 3-1 if they want to defend their NFC title.
24.) Miami Dolphins (+3)
Jay Ajayi decided to make me look like a fool, going off for another 200 yards against the Bills. He now has over half of his career yards in the past two games. I’m not sure if I should be impressed or skeptical, but the Dolphins might have found someone to build their offense around.
25.) Indianapolis Colts (+3)
Nice to see Andrew Luck play at a high level despite the state of the team around. The defense finally made a play when it mattered, forcing a fumble which Robert Mathis (yes, he’s still in the league) returned for a TD. With the Texans struggling, who knows which team will get that title.
26.) Tennessee Titans (-3)
I’m still backing the Titans. It took a Herculean effort by Luck to will the Colts over Tennessee, and Mariota still looks better than he did in the first 3 weeks of the season. So long as he can keep improving, the Titans have a weak enough schedule to end up in the thick of the AFC South.
27.) Los Angeles Rams (-3)
28.) Jacksonville Jaguars (-3)
Blake Bortles isn’t the only offensive player struggling. Allen Robinson is only catching 47% of his targets, and averaging a measly 50 yards per game. The defense is still playing well, but they aren’t talented enough to carry this pathetic offense.
29.) New York Jets (+/-0)
You have to feel for Geno Smith. Last year he lost his job to a broken jaw courtesy of IK Enemkpali, and this year he lost it to a torn ACL after just two quarters of play. Now we get to listen to Fitzpatrick complain that no one believes in him, even though he wasn’t benched after throwing 6 interceptions. Definitely a sign no one believes in him.
30.) Chicago Bears (+/-0)
Both of the Bears brightest spots dimmed last Thursday night. Brian Hoyer broke his arm just before halftime, and Jordan Howard’s role diminished as his production waned, ceding carries to Ka’Deem Carey. At least it looks like they’ll be picking within the first three picks.
31.) Cleveland Browns (+/-0)
The Browns refuse to go quietly into the night, even with every QB suffering an injury up to this point. Kevin Hogan stepped up to lead the Browns in rushing, adding a touchdown on the ground but with a couple of INTs throwing the ball. Good news though, Josh McCown might be back next week.
32.) San Francisco 49ers (+/-0)
The Niners really need to commit to rebuilding in the long term. There just isn’t any established talent with the exception of the linebacker position, and the only good thing to say about San Francisco is that they have the same amount of wins as a Super Bowl team from last year.