I thought last season in the NFL was weird. Feels like we've reached another level in 2022. Tua Tagovailoa and Geno Smith rank first and third respectively in passer rating, 10 of the 32 teams have 3-3 records and the
New Jersey New York teams have clinched .500-or-better records entering November.
If you'd spouted off some nonsense before the season that the AFC and NFC East would be the best divisions in football and that it wouldn't be particularly close, you'd be laughed out of most rooms or shitty debate shows. Again, the weirdness of 2022 is very real. So with that in mind, let's roll…NFL power rankings…
32. Carolina Panthers (Last Week: 32)
Almost moved them up, because to only lose to the Rams by 14 with PJ Walker as your quarterback is commendable. Then you factor in that interim coach Steve Wilks is changing the defense from ex-coordinator Phil Snow, who he personally let go. Carolina's offense is rudderless. Free Christian McCaffrey. The fact that I boosted the Panthers as such a sleeper team before the season makes me even more inclined to keep them at No. 32 for the foreseeable future. Those are the rules.
31. Detroit Lions (Last Week: 30)
I'm a draftnik, and I think the consensus is that Ohio State's C.J. Stroud is gaining favor as the QB1 of the 2023 draft over Alabama Heisman winner Bryce Young. Give me Young any day of the week. I'd love to see him in Detroit behind this strong offensive line. Yep, sorry Lions fans, it's already time to look ahead to next year. Do whatever it takes to draft Young, and spend the rest of your capital (draft and free agency) on defense. Boom presto fixed.
30. Houston Texans (Last Week: 31)
Neither the Texans nor the Lions played in Week 6, yet I'm giving Houston the nod here because at least its defense can stop somebody. Holding the Jaguars to six points looks like a more impressive feat in retrospect, because Trevor Lawrence only had two incompletions this past Sunday in Indy. Nevertheless, the AFC South still sucks, and the Texans are the scum of of the division.
29. Chicago Bears (Last Week: 23)
I watched Bill Belichick's presser ahead of the Bears-Patriots Monday night matchup. He went on a roughly seven-minute soliloquy praising Chicago and how competitive they've been despite throwing many young guys into the fire. Viewed through that lens, I suppose The Hoodie has a point. The Bears can also run the shit out of the ball. I just fear they're torpedoing Justin Fields' development and that he'll never be comfortable in the pocket. Already seems like he's reached Sam Darnold Seeing Ghosts status.
28. Washington Commanders (Last Week: 29)
The only reason Washington is ahead of Chicago is because the Commanders won that ugly-ass head-to-head Thursday nighter 12-7. Taylor Heinicke, dare I say, might be an upgrade over the injured Carson Wentz at QB. We shall see. Either way, the Commies are a shit show, but at least it looks like Dan Snyder might be forced to sell the team eventually.
27. Denver Broncos (Last Week: 27)
Broncos Country. Let's ride. Broncos COUNTRY…let's riiiiiide. Broncos COUNtry. Let's ride. Broncoscountryletsride. Apologies I was in a trance-induced stupor there. Denver is like the slightly richer person's AFC version of Carolina. Excellent defense, zero hope on offense, and a head coach in over his head.
26. Arizona Cardinals (Last Week: 22)
Good thing the Cards extended GM Steve Keim this offseason. Because he's built such a banger of a roster. Good thing they extended head coach Kliff Kingsbury, who's never won anything of consequence. Good thing they caved and paid Kyler Murray, who refused to work hard before and will be even less driven to do so with all that money. HAHA Arizona is the in-season Hard Knocks team and it's going precisely as I predicted it would. Bart Scott CAN'T WAIT mentality: engaged. From May…
25. New Orleans Saints (Last Week: 24)
This Saints team was without their top three receivers and cornerback Marshon Lattimore in Week 6 and still almost beat the reigning AFC champion Bengals. They've found a little something by deploying Taysom Hill as a gadget QB again. Fortunately, Week 7 sees New Orleans face the dumpster fire that is the Cardinals. I could see the Saints punching them in the mouth and pulling off a slight upset in the desert as the better-coached, more tenacious team.
24. Pittsburgh Steelers (Last Week: 28)
Any stretch of good quarterbacking throughout Mitch Trubisky's NFL career is a mirage or fluke. That's what history tells us. I refuse to believe anything else until I see sustained, above-average performance. Whether it's him or Kenny Pickett, Pittsburgh's scheme does neither of them any favors. Doesn't help to have T.J. Watt out of the equation either.
23. Cleveland Browns (Last Week: 21)
Jacoby Brissett has officially regressed to who we all knew he was. That encouraging start to the season was a flash in the pan. Even with an elite rushing attack to help him, Brissett is making lemons out of lemonade. I don't know if that analogy makes total sense but you know what I mean. Cleveland's defense is so bad given its personnel, by the way. Coordinator Joe Woods should've gotten fired a while ago.
22. Seattle Seahawks (Last Week: 25)
I hope Seattle actually figured something out defensively in its 19-9 win over Arizona and that it wasn't all terrible execution on the Cardinals' part. My guy Tariq Woolen is out here making me look like a damn genius with his four interceptions and six takeaways!! Woolen is already emerging as a No. 1 corner as a rookie fifth-rounder. Now that the Seahawks have gone to 3-3, I have to re-plug this blog from before the season. Not that I saw Geno Smith's breakout performance coming, but as for Woolen and the general direction the Seahawks are headed in, well…
21. Jacksonville Jaguars (Last Week: 16)
As I mentioned, Trevor Lawrence threw two incompletions in Week 6. The Jags still found a way to lose. That's not a great sign. maybe they're not as good as their 2-1 start suggested amid a three-game slide. Huge opportunity this Sunday when the 5-1 Giants come to Jacksonville. Feels like a do-or-die and you could easily see New York suffering a letdown in this spot. Should the Jags not capitalize, their season may be doomed.
20. Indianapolis Colts (Last Week: 26)
Among all the obviously bad teams who somehow have decent records, I hate the Colts the most. They just do nothing for me. Every time they win it pisses me off. It's nothing against the fans or the people of Indianapolis, or the wonderful, delightful John Rich whose work I will plug below this. Your football team is simply so mediocre in so many ways that if I have to watch your stupid fucking tie from Week 1 squeak you into the playoffs, I will boycott your early-window Saturday Wild Card tilt.
19. Las Vegas Raiders (Last Week: 15)
Maybe the best 1-4 team I can recall. I'm pretty confident these Raiders could beat most of the 3-3 teams, and they'd easily be 3-2 if not for falling asleep in the Cardinals game and blowing a 17-0 lead to Kansas City. I just can't gas them up too much because I still don't believe Josh McDaniels knows how to be whatever the antithesis of a stubborn asshole head coach would be.
18. Atlanta Falcons (Last Week: 19)
I refuse to give the Falcons much credit for beating the severely shorthanded 49ers last Sunday. Here are Atlanta's main issues: They have eight sacks through six games, rank second-worst in third-down conversion percentage allowed, and have Marcus Mariota at quarterback. Those are some serious flaws to overcome. To their credit, the Falcons have overcome them well enough to scrape together a 3-3 mark and cover the spread in every single game. Crazy shit.
17. Green Bay Packers (Last Week: 13)
Aaron Rodgers seems perpetually pissed, Green Bay is struggling to defend the run AGAIN and outsiders are starting to question whether coach Matt LaFleur is a legit coach, given that he's virtually been gifted with a 5-1 divisional record by default since the start of his tenure due to how bad the NFC North is. At some point Rodgers is going to get on the same page with this unheralded cast of wideouts, right? …Right?
16. Los Angeles Rams (Last Week: 18)
Pretty simple issue for the Rams. They can't block on offense. Kind of a problem. Silver lining: Allen Robinson had five of his 17 catches on the season in Week 6, including a touchdown. Robinson needs to emerge as a real WR2 threat opposite Cooper Kupp. Only so many ways you can scheme Kupp open, or have Matthew Stafford force-feed him the ball. I keep the 3-3 Rams on the fringe of the playoff tier because I think they'll sort out their o-line when they're healthier, and they still have Aaron Donald, Bobby Wagner and Jalen Ramsey to lead all three levels of their D. Additionally, another odd situation happening with a standout young running back in LA is not helping matters, though….
15. Los Angeles Chargers (Last Week: 8)
When I watch Bolts coach Brandon Staley during a game, I see a man who's hastily pacing up and down the sidelines to get as far away as possible, as quickly as possible, from the horrendous game management decisions he so often makes. Like if he walks fast enough he can somehow get enough endorphins going to forget about how much of a fucking idiot he just was moments prior. Staley stays completely stone-faced amid his hurried scurrying. Less endearing, more inclined to stir reactions of, "WAKE UP! WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU EVEN DOING OUT HERE!?" If the Chargers don't make the playoffs, this guy is getting so fucking fired.
14. New York Jets (Last Week: 20)
Watching someone with Zach Wilson's talent level execute at such a below-average clip is maddening. The Jets QB is still technically a rookie in terms of NFL starting experience. I just expected way more out of him coming out of BYU. This is why we don't make wins a pure QB stat. Wilson is 3-0 as a starter in 2022 thanks to Gang Green's exceptional defense and the emergence of rookie tailback Breece Hall. PS, I love Sauce Gardner.
13. Miami Dolphins (Last Week: 14)
Tua Tagovailoa comes back amid a three-game losing streak for the Fins. This is one of the most injured teams in the NFL, or else I'd have them higher. They do get to face the Steelers on Sunday night, which should mean a big comeback outing for Tua if Miami can protect him well enough. Unless Tua maintains his MVP-caliber level of play, the Dolphins feel a year away from really vying for a deep playoff run.
12. Tennessee Titans (Last Week: 12)
The more I see of the AFC South, the more convicted I am in my preseason prediction that the Titans would remain at the top. This isn't a perfect team, and the ceiling is a win on Wild Card Weekend. Still, the division crown gives you a chance to host a playoff game, and from there, anything can happen. Tennessee has a stout front seven, a bruising offense led by Derrick Henry and the best coaching in their division by a mile. All those things travel well as the games get more meaningful.
11. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Last Week: 5)
Use any excuses you want. The bottom line is, Tampa Bay is way too reliant on a 45-year-old Tom Brady, behind a dubious, youthful offensive line and can only go so far with basically zero running game. The Bucs are last in the NFL in rushing yards per game. They must become more balanced, and I wouldn't be surprised to see a bold trade deadline acquisition to maximize the most of whatever time they have left with TB12.
10. Minnesota Vikings (Last Week: 11)
I predicted the Vikings would be improved and make the playoffs in 2022. Didn't necessarily see a 5-1 start coming. Kevin O'Connell would be a bigger Coach of the Year storyline were Brian Daboll not tearing it up with the Giants. I still hesitate to move Minnesota higher than this. Their past four victories were by one possession over the Lions, Saints, Bears and a Dolphins team who was starting their third-string QB.
9. Cincinnati Bengals (Last Week: 9)
Weird place to be as a fan of this team. The Bengals seemingly can't stop shooting themselves in the foot, DJ Reader's absence on the defensive line is killing us, and yet…against a sophisticated, veteran Saints defense, Joe Burrow and Ja'Marr Chase tapped into their good Louisiana vibes and got Cincinnati back on track. Sunday's rally in New Orleans may be the turning point of the entire season. Three winnable games versus the Falcons, Cardinals and Browns are on deck before the bye. Gotta have 'em.
8. Baltimore Ravens (Last Week: 7)
I really don't get how Baltimore keeps blowing these leads. You'd think a team that has a crazy good runner like Lamar Jackson who can pick up chunk of yardage on the ground and presumably open running lanes for his backs would have little trouble playing from ahead. Guess not. It's becoming a disturbing trend for the Ravens. They've blown double-digit leads in each of their three losses. Bad personnel at wide receiver as well. Not a recipe for sustained success.
7. New York Giants (Last Week: 10)
For a team like Minnesota who lost a bunch of close games last year and clearly needed a coaching change, it seemed much more ambitious for Giants fans to dream that Brian Daboll's arrival could result in such a swift turnaround. BUT…you combine a healthy Saquon Barkley with a better offensive line, and a surprisingly flexible new defensive coordinator in Wink Martindale who's not doing stupid shit and full-sending Cover Zero every other play, and suddenly the G-Men are GOOD. Don't care how easy the schedule is. Every week I'm waiting for them to disappoint me or fall on their faces, and every week, save for one, they've won. Hell of a rally to beat Baltimore. And Daniel Jones is doing this with basically zero help at wide receiver. Hot damn, Danny Dimes!
6. San Francisco 49ers (Last Week: 3)
I don't think I appreciated just how injured the 49ers were going into Week 6 against Atlanta. They should be getting left tackle Trent Williams and pass-rusher Nick Bosa back in short order, which should help them keep rolling to wins on a fairly regular basis in spite of Jimmy Garoppolo.
5. New England Patriots (Last Week: 17)
I'm so in on the Bailey Zappe bandwagon. Saw this dude move off what looked to be either a pick play or a busted slant-flat concept in the red zone, get to his third read, and zip a TD throw into a tight window in Cleveland. Zappe lit the Browns up for over 300 yards through the air. I refuse to believe Matt Patricia is the man calling plays. It has to be Belichick, with some mild input from Patricia. I can't accept the reality that Patricia is actually competent in any way. Whether it's Zappe or Mac Jones under center for the foreseeable future, this Pats defense makes them a real terror…and the fifth-best team in the NFL at this moment despite being DFL in the AFC East division they've dominated for the better part of two decades.
4. Dallas Cowboys (Last Week: 6)
Some of this is projection because they're getting Dak Prescott back. I couldn't believe it was a one-possession game in Philly pretty late with Cooper Rush running the offense. Rush threw three interceptions and the Cowboys still only lost by nine! So yeah, Dallas is for real. Turns out its defense is still excellent even without (so far) getting the plethora of takeaways they benefitted from in 2021.
3. Kansas City Chiefs (Last Week: 2)
The AFC West isn't as good as everyone suspected, which will only help the Chiefs as the season goes on. When you break down their entire schedule, they haven't been particularly impressive when you consider the competition. Oh well. Looks like KC is defending better than expected in critical situations, and I can only imagine losing at home to Buffalo for the second time in three games will only drive the Chiefs and Patrick Mahomes to progress as the months wear on.
2. Philadelphia Eagles (Last Week: 4)
The only undefeated team remaining, yet I'm still deeply concerned about the Eagles' second-half offense. It's almost like Nick Sirianni hits the Super Sim button in Madden and kinda lets some conservative AI bot take over the play-calling. Philadelphia has gotten away with it so far. However, I'd like to see more out of Jalen Hurts as a passer. Not like he doesn't have the weapons or personal competence to air it out more often. It'd be a shame if this Iggles team can't figure out how to put a complete game together in the postseason. All the pieces are there for a Super Bowl run.
1. Buffalo Bills (Last Week: 1)
Can't remember whether I said this in last week's power rankings or in my recap-ish thing about Bills-Chiefs, but living up to preseason billing as the consensus Super Bowl favorite and/or public darling is so difficult. Hasn't fazed Buffalo in the least. Josh Allen seems like a shoo-in for MVP. This is the most complete team by any measure, with arguably (respect to Mahomes) the best QB to boot.
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