Del Pilar’s Diatribe: WEEK SEVEN NFL Power Rankings Broken Down!

NFL Power Rankings

The “Week Seven” NFL Power Rankings are here as we continue the Bye Weeks (weeks 5-14). The following teams didn’t play this past week.

  • Pittsburgh Steelers
  • Green Bay Packers

Another week, but some big upsets! The last two undefeated teams, the San Francisco 49ers, and Philadelphia Eagles, went down. While the Eagles are winning, they have chinks in their armor that finally cost them. The Niners got caught in a trap game, which cost them, too. The Bills almost fell to .500 only to escape with a win, and the Houston Texans continue to play above expectations with another win! We love our teams, but upsets are why we watch every week and enjoy America’s favorite sport. “Any given Sunday” proved itself true again. Let’s get to it, people!

Note: Numbers in parentheses by team name note their ranking last week.

The Elites

  1. Kansas City Chiefs (2) Record: 5-1 – the Chiefs are not playing pretty football, but their only loss came to an up-and-coming powerhouse in the Detroit Lions. Outside of that, they may win ugly, but they’re beating the teams they’re supposed to beat. Thus, they leap over the San Francisco 49ers to take the top slot. However, we truly live in the era of “Any given Sunday.” The Chiefs, like any team, are beatable.
  2. San Francisco 49ers (1) Record: 5-1 – this was nothing but an embarrassment. The Browns are a mess. Their vaunted elite defense hasn’t been consistent this season, but the Niners came in with a target on their back and were looking ahead. Invariably, a big mistake in the NFL, including pathetic decision-making at the end of the game by Kyle Shanahan, in not trying to grind more yards out to kick a game-winner. At the same time, the 49ers lost RB Christian McCaffrey (oblique/ribs), WR Deebo Samuels (shoulder) and LT Trent Williams (ankle). They’re three top dogs, but it’s no excuse if you’re trying to establish yourself as the No. 1 team in the league. This loss is a massive setback for a team that is a machine but one that can lose to anyone if they’re not focused. That was the case this week.
  3. Philadelphia Eagles (3) Record: 5-1 – like the Niners this week, the Eagles also fell. Was this a “trap game”? One could say so, but it was also the Jets season on the line. I’ve been saying the Eagles have chinks in their armor, but because they’re such a superior team, they could still win and dominate. However, that eventually catches up to any team. This week, they couldn’t overcome turnovers (four), and their rushing attack hit a brick wall. QB Jalen Hurts almost pulled it off. This loss isn’t bad and will force the players and coaching staff to regroup and likely focus on these issues. Staying undefeated in the NFL once in the modern era is nearly impossible. We all know it’s the Miami Dolphins perfect 1972 season (17-0), which was 51 years ago!

NFL Power Rankings: Elitism is on their Radar!

  1. Miami Dolphins (5) Record: 5-1 – the Dolphins put themselves in a hole going down by 14, but their offense is too high-powered, and we all knew they would come back against one of the league’s worst teams, the Carolina Panthers. While not invincible, you must be able to keep up with teams offensively, and the Panthers couldn’t and went down 42-21. However, this shows a big chink in the Dolphins’ armor in that any team can score against their defense. Until they improve in that area, you must look at the teams ahead of them as better. Defense wins championships, and they must improve on their 26th-ranked defense (entire season), but in their defense, they have had a top-20 defense the past three weeks. However, they must do better.
  2. Detroit Lions (6) Record: 5-1 – the NFL is a league of attrition, and the Lions disposed of a Tampa Bay Buccaneers squad that are obvious pretenders, but they now have two hurt running backs in David Montgomery (ribs) and Jahmyr Gibbs (hamstring), who couldn’t suit up. That bears watching this week as they need the overall balance. Once Montgomery went out, they didn’t have it. However, QB Jared Goff put the team on his back against a top-five defense (4th ranked overall) this season, albeit a mediocre defense in their last three games. He did what he’s supposed to do as a former No. 1 overall pick. Put the team on his back. That’s growth, but they need one of their two top-backs healthy to compete against elite teams. Defensively, they’re becoming an elite unit – the past three games put them in the upper echelon of defenses, despite their overall No. 14 season ranking.
  3. Buffalo Bills (4) Record: 4-2 – if you’re a Bills fan, this game should worry you. Jetlag or not, the Bills should’ve whipped the Giants. This game is where you can’t let your opponent get close, and they did. Turnovers, missed field goals, poor play overall, and two other losses they should’ve won show this is a beatable team and seems to be regressing, not improving. Their only saving grace: when the defense had to, they held. Holding the New York Giants not once but twice with goal-line stands, showing when push came to shove, they held, but we’re talking about the Giants (1-5). Against contenders, you can’t say they would’ve held.
  4. Dallas Cowboys (9) Record: 4-2 – the defense came through this week, and the Cowboys rebounded from a beatdown last week. This game was a must-win based on where they reside in most analyst’s minds (top 10 team). Last week’s blowout wasn’t necessarily a fluke in the loss, but it was in how the game went. The problem with the Cowboys has always been critical errors in big games, and one reason they don’t go deep in the playoffs. This win against a talented, albeit underperforming Chargers team was what they needed. They slide up the rankings a couple of slots but still have much to prove. Not to worry, they’ll have the games to prove themselves, specifically the Eagles down the road. Statistically, their offense ranks No. 6 overall but didn’t do as well as expected, but enough to win. Give their 8th-ranked defense credit, as they bottled up Chargers QB Justin Herbert and their so-called high-powered offense.
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Better than Average but Still has Kinks to Work Out.

  1. Jacksonville Jaguars (8) Record: 4-2 – wow, the Jaguars seem to be getting it together. The Colts are a fun team to watch but reverted to preseason expectations this week. The Jaguars’ defense is rounding into form with four turnovers and forcing the Colts to go four and out twice at the end of the game. This offense is still a work in progress, but their growth should be further ahead than what we’re seeing. However, they’re 4-2 and control the AFC South now. They’re doing what they’re supposed to, but they have the Texans to deal with, who beat them in Week Three. They’re winning and only one game back. The Jags aren’t showing themselves good enough yet to know they can take care of business when necessary.
  2. The Baltimore Ravens (11) Record: 4-2 – this game epitomizes that the Ravens are still learning a new offense. QB Lamar Jackson is growing into it, but will he have it down by the time playoffs roll around? That’s the big question. They dominated the Tennessee Titans but couldn’t put them away, allowing them to stick around. The problem is the red zone and touchdowns, or lack of them. PK Justin Tucker came away with four field goals against elite, high-power offenses that won’t be enough. That said, the offense still shows what it’s capable of doing. They just must become consistent. That should come in time. Two weeks, one loss, and hanging on for dear life this week makes Raven fans deservedly nervous. They are beatable, but weekly improvements should create the gap we think is there against most of the league.
  3. Cleveland Browns (10) Record: 3-2 – the Browns had a Bye Week to prepare for the 49ers, which paid off. Their elite defense, which is the case with most, isn’t consistent. However, they came in and shut down the best team in the league, and if it were not for poor coaching decisions by the Niners at the end of the game, they would’ve lost. However, they didn’t. It appears their rushing attack is coming together as a running back by committee with Jerome Ford and Kareem Hunt. This team’s defense makes them a threat to be competitive, but until the offense comes around, they’ll be helter-skelter throughout the season. It was a great win, but the Niners fell for a “trap game” that does dominant teams in. See the Chiefs and Eagles, too.

NFL Power Rankings: Pretenders or Contenders?

  1. Cincinnati Bengals (15) Record: 3-3 – the Bengals came out hot, throwing up 14 points, and then hung on for dear life. Their offensive line continues to be a problem, and they lack a rushing attack with only 46 yards. If QB Joe Burrows isn’t on his “A-game,” this team will not make it far this season. They’ve clawed their way to .500 and are competitive, but their rushing attack sits 29th in the league in full-season rankings. That’s on the coaching staff and Zak Taylor. This writer believes Taylor isn’t the offensive guru most think he is. He has an elite quarterback and elite wide receivers carrying him and the team. This unit is currently a team that is not progressing as a team. Instead, Burrows is getting healthy and carrying them, but he alone won’t beat elite teams. They held on for life this week. Can they do that every week? We’ll find out, but they’ll take the win against a top team like the Seahawks, so we shouldn’t fully diminish what we see.
  2. Seattle Seahawks (9) Record: 3-2 – the Seahawks had a Bye Week to figure out the Cincinnati Bengals and didn’t. That said, the likelihood that Bengals QB Joe Burrows (calf) is back, isn’t as straightforward as most hope. They were Helter Skelter, playing lights out early, only to cling on for dear life. However, the offense couldn’t get it going for the Seahawks, and that’s a limitation of the feel-good story that is Seahawks QB Geno Smith. He’s limited and will never be elite. However, they don’t need him to be. That said, can the team count on him against the league’s better teams if they fall behind? This week, they couldn’t. The Bengals started hot with two touchdowns, and we all expected them to roll. However, the Seahawks’ defense clamped down and made it a game. That’s their formula – strong defense keeps it close and a savage rushing attack with a quarterback that can manage and make the deep throws and will rarely lose a game. The latter part of that formula failed, with Smith delivering two interceptions, going down for four sacks, and poor red zone success (1-5). However, this team is too good for that to be the norm. This loss came against a team regrouping into elite status; thus, we can forgive them, albeit unexpectedly.
  3. The New York Jets (20) Record: 3-3 – the Jets played with their season on the line and triumphed. That’s a testament to the coaching staff and the team not giving up on QB Zach Wilson. However, it was the defense that rose to the occasion here. This team must maintain pace with the Bills and Dolphins. This game was their season, and this defense has stood up against some powerhouse offenses (Bills, Chiefs, and Cowboys) and held their own (except for the Cowboys). They knew what they had to do and kept this team in the game and have been a top-10 defense for the past four weeks. Wilson didn’t turn the ball over and is showing improvement every week. Remember, he was the overall No. 2 pick in the draft a couple of years ago. Maybe Aaron Rodgers is tutoring him better than anyone realizes. However, he’s still on shaky ground and must continue his growth. After being competitive against the Chiefs and beating the Eagles, this team has the talent to challenge for the AFC East division, but they are on the outside looking in for now.

The Rest of the Best or Pretenders

  1. Los Angeles Rams (16) Record: 3-3 – while I expected a better performance from the Arizona Cardinals, there’s a lot of film on this new offense and team. We can’t forget the Rams are a veteran team and did what they had to do against an inferior team. Beat them! That said, they were sleepwalking early on, which will cost them against the better teams. However, Cooper Kupp is back going 7-148-1-9, so fantasy football owners and the team are happy. Is it enough to turn the tide this season? Their rushing attack showed some positives, but we have to wait and see. Overall, the Rams will compete every week but fall short for lack of depth and overall talent in the long run. This game didn’t tell us anything outside of Kupp, so we wait and see.
  2. Los Angeles Chargers (14) Record: 2-3 – did these guys even show up to play? The Chargers are below .500, and it’s no fluke. They have a terrible head coach and a history of never playing up to their potential. Even when they would do well, the front office would sabotage it (see Marty Schottenheimer). QB Justin Herbert is earning $262,500,000 over five years, yet he can’t win the big game. Between coaching, an inconsistent team overall, and failing to live up to the talent most say they have on paper, this team will probably struggle to maintain playoff relevance. Their offense ranks at No. 17, and their defense is at No. 19. To say they’re underachieving is putting it mildly! Yet, that always seems to be the case with this team. Finally, the excuse you’ll hear is that they miss WR Mike Williams (ACL) but that’s not entirely true, nor close to it.
  3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (12) Record: 3-2 – the Bucs had a Bye Week to prepare for this game, and we wonder what they were doing. QB Baker Mayfield (shoulder) got hurt but didn’t rise to the level the team needed him to. In his defense, the Lions are becoming an elite defense, especially in the last few weeks. Overall, Mayfield’s a new quarterback with a new playbook, and while it is not a rebuild, it takes time to come together. This week was a significant setback, considering they weren’t competitive in losing 20-6. It’s not all the offense, as the Lions were without their top two running backs, and the defense couldn’t corral QB Jared Goff. The Bucs are a team that can beat mediocre opponents but is still behind the power curve by a lot against most of the league’s better teams.
  4. Houston Texans (26) Record: 3-3 – this team is competing for the AFC South. While the Jaguars are the favorites, they can beat them and take this division. The reason is the play of rookie QB sensation C.J. Stroud. He remains poised in the pocket, goes through his reads, and makes the big play. This team shouldn’t be 3-3 right now, but they have an offensive ranking of 10th this season. No one would have predicted that! It’s because of him. Overall, this young team, in a rebuilding mode, is playing exceptionally well, and that’s because rookie head coach DeMeco Ryans built tough and has his players playing tough. Right now, their defense ranks No. 13 so far this season. They’ll likely falter as more and more film accumulates on Stroud, but until then, they are competing and can win any week unless they’re playing one of the elite teams. Even then, “any given Sunday,” people!
  5. Pittsburgh Steelers (17) Record: 3-2 – Bye Week.
  6. Washington Commanders (22)Record: 3-3 – the Commanders are in a rebuilding position as they learn a new offense, and second-year quarterback Sam Howell continues his NFL growth. The defense also showed significant improvement, but remember, they’re playing against a mirror team in the rebuilding Atlanta Falcons. Of course, their defense will be solid against another mediocre team. They won, but this team is genuinely a Heckel and Jekyll outfit. They don’t know how to win consistently yet. The Falcons won’t compete for a playoff spot but may surprise a team here or there, especially within their division. Overall, they’re learning to play together and trying to learn to be consistent.
  7. New Orleans Saints (13) Record: 3-3 – is it time for offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael to go? I think so! The Houston Texans are playing great football, but they’re in a complete rebuild, and the Saints are supposed to be competing for the NFC South this year, with some making them the favorites to win the division. Their strength is supposed to be their defense, and it ranks No. Eight overall this season, but it ranks outside the top 10 in the past three weeks, which is concerning. Yet, the problem here is the offense, stupid mistakes, not gelling right now, and an inability to score. Their No. 23 ranking this season is telling, and we’re not seeing the improvement we need. It’s still a wait-and-see, but this team isn’t progressing as quickly as they should on offense, and it will probably be their downfall. You must be able to hang with high-powered offenses in this league, and they couldn’t even do that against the rebuilding Texans. This team is regressing a bit.
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NFL Power Rankings: The Get it Together or Else and Overachievers Section

  1. Minnesota Vikings (21) Record: 2-4 – the Vikings should’ve manhandled the Chicago Bears, especially after their QB, Justin Fields (thumb) went down. They’ll take their second win and still hope to compete in a division they’re three games back. Without Justin Jefferson (hamstring), this offense goes down a couple of notches, so it’s a big question if they can claw their way back or even compete against better teams with Jefferson out. That said, QB Kirk Cousins will offset the loss, but they can’t afford to lose any games as he re-acclimates the offense. This team may do a fire sale if they suffer another two to three losses before the trade deadline. The team’s defense sits at No. 23 overall, and their offense has lost its most important weapon. It looks grim right now. Remember last year they won 11 close games, and this year? They’re 2-4 and looking bad.
  2. Las Vegas Raiders (24) Record: 3-3 – Brian Hoyer is still in the league. He’s a veteran of 15 NFL seasons and is still collecting six-figure paychecks. God Bless him as he led the “Silver and Black” back to .500 in a game against the hapless New England Patriots. As a former Patriot, he probably savored the victory. One storyline is QB Jimmy Garoppolo (back) leaving with a back injury. Hoyer is a great backup, but that’s all he is now in his career. Technically, this team isn’t in rebuilding mode, but you would think they are the way they show mediocrity week in and week out. Their offense is 25th ranked this season, and their defense is 22nd ranked. They’re not a talented team, and we’re not sure they can improve. RB Josh Jacobs continues to disappoint with a 25-77-0 performance, but again, he missed all of training camp, and this performance is a continual improvement since returning to the team. That’s one positive, if not the only one. We’ll have to wait and see on Garoppolo’s back, but overall, this team will probably remain near the bottom of the league.
  3. Indianapolis Colts (18) Record: 3-3 – the Colts fell back hard as they were routed and non-competitive for the first time this week. Injuries, realities of better opponents, and teams have more film on this new coaching regime. This loss isn’t unexpected, but we did expect a better game. However, the offense regressed, specifically backup quarterback Gardner Minshew, who threw three picks. The genuine concern is now starting quarterback Anthony Richardson (shoulder), who may undergo season-ending surgery. My issue going into the season with him was his style of play. A big, bruising quarterback in college – a man amongst boys – now, not so big because it’s the NFL, and sure enough, he’s been hurt every game and now could be lost for the season. That will set back his growth as an NFL quarterback. The speed and brutality of the NFL is why there has yet to be a rush-first quarterback ever to win a Super Bowl. The position can only take so many hits before it affects their play. Eventually, to succeed, Richardson will have to learn to stand firm in the pocket amidst a heavy rush. Minshew will have to improve his play for the team to challenge in a weak AFC South division. Can he do that? The team may have no option but to find out.
  4. Tennessee Titans (19) Record: 2-4 – look, the Titans are who we thought they were. They can compete but don’t have the quarterback or receiving corps to hang with the big boys. This loss to the Ravens is because they’re the better team. Titans QB Ryan Tannehill (ankle) isn’t very good, and his backups are even worse. Tannehill left with an ankle injury, and backup Malik Willis looked terrible with some of his decision-making. With little time, you must get out of bounds and stop the clock, and he’s holding on to the ball way too long, resulting in five sacks. The icing on the cake is a failed first-and-goal situation. None of that bodes well for him usurping the starting job. Titans’ fans, you’re stuck with Tannehill, which means a lost season. He is the quarterback who will lose games for you, which is why they lost this week. The team will not bring him back next year, mark my words. Look for a few significant wins, but they’re not competing for a playoff spot.
  5. Atlanta Falcons (23) Record: 3-3 – like their opponent this week, the Redskins, the Falcons are in the same boat. Learning the offense, developing chemistry, and being consistent with minimal penalties and turnovers. They failed this week. QB Desmond Ridder may find himself in the hot seat come season’s end as he’s been too inconsistent with more poor play than good — his stat-line this week: 28 of 47 for 307 yards, two touchdowns, but three interceptions. The one positive for fantasy football owners and the team – TE Kyle Pitts went 4-43-1-6, and the critical number here is six targets, showing the quarterback is looking for him and he’s finally getting open. This team may end up with a terrible record, but quarterback development is more critical now. If Ridder doesn’t show more significant improvement, the team may look to upgrade the position in the draft.
  6. Green Bay Packers (25) Record: 2-3 – Bye Week.

What the Hell, We Have No Clue or Playing for Draft Positions

  1. Arizona Cardinals (27) Record: 1-5 – the Cardinals were in the game until the second half this week, and like the Colts, we saw the team we thought we would, based on preseason predictions. They didn’t have the firepower to keep up with the Rams and, when they fell behind, forced to throw; the Rams shut them down with two turnovers in the fourth quarter. This game is a lesson for the Cardinals, who may have been getting too confident in their growth, but that said, at 1-5, that’s hard to believe. Can the Rams bounce back? By bouncing back, we mean getting competitive again. We’re not sure, as there is more film on this team, but they’re playing hard for their rookie head coach, Jonathan Gannon. If they continue to improve, they may have no choice but to keep the underperforming midget in QB Kyler Murray (ACL), but anything can happen, as their record shows.
  2. New York Giants (31) Record: 1-5 – Bless those Giants as they came to play. Their defense finally came through. The defense held a top-three offense in the Bills to 14 points, had two turnovers, and watched the offense bungle two 1-yard goal-line opportunities that cost them two touchdowns. This loss is enormous because they should’ve won. However, it’s something to grow with. For those wondering, QB Tyrod Taylor (24 of 36 passes for 200 yards) is one of the league’s best backups, but that’s all he is. He’s not a starter, and we know this because he’s been in the league for 13 years and had opportunities. This game is where the defense made the difference, and Taylor screwed up at the end of the first half with a play call change at the 1-yard line with only a few seconds left that fell flat and ran the clock out. Overall, a great backup and team player. Can the Giants learn from this? We’ll find out soon enough.
  3. Denver Broncos (28) Record: 1-5 – let’s be honest here. It’s a rebuild from QB Russell Wilson, rebuilding his confidence after being worse than humbled but embarrassed and bringing all his critics out to a defense that is one of the worst in the league. It’s ranked dead last (32nd). Until they improve, it’s going to be tough to win. Defensive coordinator Vance Joseph may not last the season, and he shouldn’t if this unit doesn’t improve. The offense must step up from its middling ranking (16th). Overall, the team will see more media flak in a negative light because of Wilson and how this team is losing. The key is their week-to-week growth.
  4. New England Patriots (32) Record: 1-5 – overall, the team played much better. Remember, opponents outscored them 72-3 in the past two games, so to score 17 points is progressing. That’s their highest point total since Week Two (17 points). They were in this game, so all they can do is take this game and build on it. That said, without Tom Brady, Bill Belichick’s record is losing; thus, I don’t have as much confidence as others do. However, I have confidence in offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien, but he must do better. We’ll see if they build off this, but this team is going nowhere this season. Could they be in the Caleb Williams (quarterback) sweepstakes this draft? They could head that way with their current record as it stands!
  5. Chicago Bears (29) Record: 1-5 – the big story isn’t the loss to the Vikings but losing QB Justin Fields (thumb). Fields was not playing well before the injury and reverted after two solid games of growth. Again, a rushing quarterback gets hurt rushing. That’s why all teams would rather have a quarterback learn to be a professional quarterback and use their legs when needed, not to tuck the ball after the first read and run. The stats will look great, but the wins will be minimal. Right now, there is no timetable for the return of Fields, which means ugly losses for this team moving forward as we put little stock into backup Tyson Bagent. Regardless, fans may believe Fields is a “franchise” quarterback, but right now, the Bears are hunting for the overall No. 1 draft pick. That means highly touted college prospect Caleb Williams will be potentially available to them.
  6. Carolina Panthers (30) Record: 0-6 – the best takeaway from this loss is that we saw improvement in rookie QB Bryce Young. They came out strong, but then reality caught up to them as they lost to one of the league’s most prolific offenses, the Dolphins. There’s no shame in that. This week was a growth week for the team despite the loss. The current coaching staff will take it as they haven’t done the best job so far this season, so it also gives them a confidence boost.

There you have it, this week’s NFL Power Rankings. As always, let us know if you agree or disagree! Until next week, never forget, “any given Sunday!”

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