Guess what? It’s a special bumper edition of the Fun Power Rankings this week, because I was rude enough to go on holiday last week (to the US to watch the NFL, so it kind of counts as research).
That means the last two weeks of fixtures are being taken into account for this week’s movers and shakers. There are big, big shifts for the Jaguars and Patriots in week seven - you can probably guess who goes in which direction.
Let’s get right to it...
32. Arizona Cardinals (down 2)
It’s really tough to be a Cardinals fan right now. At home against the Broncos in prime time there was never even a second where it looked like they could be competitive, and now star defensive back Patrick Peterson is doing everything in his power to engineer a trade. If I were the Cardinals I’d take it, clean out the roster and start going hard on the rebuild, there’s nothing here for this team in the present.
31. Buffalo Bills (down 2)
The Bills are now relying on 35-year-old Derek Anderson, literally signed off the street little over a week ago, to be their starting quarterback. It’d be easy to blame their 37-5 thumping in Indianapolis on that, but really the whole team was wretched. The Bills are averaging just 11.6 points per game - dead last in the NFL - and have fewer touchdowns across their 53-man roster than Todd Gurley has on his own through week seven. Silly stuff.
30. Oakland Raiders (down 3)
This was a good week, because we didn’t have to watch the Raiders play. At least it’s clear Jon Gruden is in full rebuild mode after trading Amari Cooper to the Cowboys for a first round pick. They now have three first rounders in next year’s draft, which means there are brighter days ahead in Oakland.
29. Tennessee Titans (down 3)
Tennessee at least gave the Wembley crowd a close game for once, and fair play to Mike Vrabel for going for the two-point conversion to win the game at the death instead of settling for overtime. At the end of the day, though, it didn’t work out, and this offense is still one of the most turgid in the NFL. Only Buffalo and Arizona are scoring fewer points.
28. San Francisco 49ers (up 4)
The Niners did a really nice job of pushing the Packers all the way in week six. No one expected Green Bay to need yet another late Aaron Rodgers miracle at Lambeau, and that’s testament to CJ Beathard’s toughness and a running game that’s putting up great numbers despite Jerick McKinnon being sidelined for the season. San Francisco might not win a lot of games this season, but there’s reason for hope in the future.
27. Miami Dolphins (up 1)
Brock Osweiler has a strange knack of beating the Bears (his first starts as a Bronco, a Texan and now a Dolphin were all wins over Chicago), but that doesn’t make him a good quarterback. Miami have a decent shot at the playoffs this season, but outside of Albert Wilson and a few other pieces they aren’t a team you’re rushing to watch week in, week out.
26. Dallas Cowboys (up 5)
The Cowboys’ week six win over the Jaguars was exactly the blueprint of how they should be playing football. Lots of touches for Ezekiel Elliott, lots of Dak Prescott running the ball and lots of short, safe passes to Cole Beasley. However, for every good Cowboys game you’re almost guaranteed a bad one. Keep an eye out for rookie linebacker Leighton Vander Esch on defense by the way, he’s having a great first season.
25. Jacksonville Jaguars (down 11)
Since we were last here the Jags have given up 60 points and scored just 14. They were so bad against the Texans this week that Blake Bortles was benched - Doug Marrone’s way of sending a message to an entire team of underperformers - but he should be back in the line-up at Wembley. Something is very, very wrong in Jacksonville, and it ain’t making for pretty viewing.
24. New York Giants (down 3)
There’s no point in continuing to say the same old thing about the Giants. No disrespect to Eli Manning and what he’s done, but they need a new quarterback and a lot of offensive line help before we get to see the best of Odell Beckham Jr. and Saquon Barkley.
23. Philadelphia Eagles (up 2)
Carson Wentz played one of the best games of his career for three quarters against the Panthers, then the Eagles blew it. Big time. Still, despite the meltdown happening on Philly’s local radio stations, the Eagles have been pretty decent to watch over the last fortnight. They definitely aren’t going to the Super Bowl again, but would you be surprised to see them win the division?
22. Seattle Seahawks (up 2)
The Seahawks have found a working formula, which is to run the ball hard and often and lighten the load on Russell Wilson’s poor shoulders. It’s working for them too - they’ve won two of their last three, and that defeat was a nailbiter against the Rams. Seattle are less fun than they were when Wilson was doing everything, but if there were a power ranking somewhere judging teams on being sensible they’d be soaring.
21. New York Jets (up 2)
He had a dodgy game against a hungry Vikings defense on Sunday, but Sam Darnold still looks like The Guy for the Jets, and that’s all they could ever have asked for from this season. Of course he looks raw - he leads the league in interceptions with ten - but you can chalk those off to rookie throws, and he is also making some beautiful passes out there. It’s always worth tuning in to watch New York just to see how Darnold goes.
20. Denver Broncos (up 2)
Von Miller promised a destruction of the Arizona Cardinals, and a destruction he delivered. Miller had two sacks and the Broncos defense ran in two pick sixes as they tore apart poor Josh Rosen in prime time, making Case Keenum an irrelevance in the process. If Denver are going to do anything this season that has to be the formula.
19. Washington Redskins (up 1)
It’s pretty crazy to think that the Redskins didn’t even intend to go into the season with the player who is currently making up the majority of their offense. Adrian Peterson looks every bit like Adrian Peterson and has been one of the NFL’s best running backs, but outside of him Washington are struggling to put much together.
18. Detroit Lions (up 1)
Matt Stafford has been very, very good since his week one catastrophe against the Jets, but no one’s really talking about him thanks to Mahomes et al throwing for 700 yards a game. The real story in Detroit, though, is Kerryon Johnson, who absolutely crushed the Dolphins on Sunday. Nineteen carries for 158 yards if you’re asking, plus two receptions for a total of 21. Don’t be surprised if the Lions are there or thereabouts in December.
17. Houston Texans (down 1)
The Texans have gone from an 0-3 start to leading the AFC South at 4-3. That’s mostly because the AFC South is terrible - and Houston haven’t been good themselves - but with playmakers like Deshaun Watson, DeAndre Hopkins, JJ Watt and Tyrann Mathieu in their ranks they’re a team who could get down the stretch, and then you never know.
16. Baltimore Ravens (down 1)
Justin Tucker missed his first ever NFL PAT in 223 attempts on Sunday. He never missed one in college, which means that was the first extra point he’s missed since he was in high school. That kind of overshadowed what was a thrilling match against the Saints, where Baltimore managed to limit the New Orleans offense to about two thirds of what it’s been used to this season in terms of yards and points. Joe Flacco went 23/39 for 279 yards and two scores in a nice game.
15. Indianapolis Colts (up 3)
I’m clinging to the idea that, at 2-5, the Colts still have a shot in the AFC South, because I think they’re the most compelling team in the division, and with Andrew Luck they automatically have the best narrative. They’re clearly missing a number of pieces, but overall I think Colts fans have to feel positive about where this team is going. Darius Leonard had 17 tackles against the Bills this weekend. Monstrous.
14. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (down 3)
It feels pretty harsh to move the Bucs down after very nearly beating the Falcons in week six and then knocking over the Browns with a 59-yard overtime field goal, but this team has lost the Magic that surrounded it in those wild opening few weeks. I also just can’t find it in me to root for Jameis Winston, sorry.
13. Green Bay Packers (-)
Even when Aaron Rodgers doesn’t play all that well he can still throw for 425 yards and two touchdowns and pull off a last-ditch, game-winning drive. He linked up well with Davante Adams against the Niners, before the bye week came at a crucial time, giving this banged up team a chance to get healthy. Next up: Rams.
12. Cincinnati Bengals (down 8)
The Bengals have given us two really disappointing weeks, first losing to the Steelers in a game which felt like a real test of their mettle, then going down to the Chiefs with nothing more than a whimper. This is still the best Bengals team to watch in years, but they’ve lost a bit of their sheen.
11. Carolina Panthers (down 3)
I was ready to drop the Panthers halfway down the table after the first three quarters in Philadelphia, then that happened. Cam Newton had five total passing yards at the end of the first half, but ended up pulling off the greatest comeback in franchise history - the throw to Torrey Smith on fourth and ten under huge amounts of pressure is one only he could make. Why the drop, then? Because they were pretty poor against the Redskins in week six, and need to find a way to get going before Q4, if only for the good of their fans’ hearts.
10. Atlanta Falcons (-)
Matt Ryan was outstanding against the Giants on Monday night, completing 31 of his 39 passes for 379 yards and a touchdown. The Falcons should ride this new tactic of getting down the field with Julio Jones and then targeting anyone but in the end zone to the death - it’s working well for them and has helped pull them from 1-4 back into the NFC playoff picture. Rookie running back Ito Smith is one to watch over the coming weeks with Devonta Freeman out.
9. Los Angeles Chargers (up 3)
The Bolts are 5-2 with Joey Bosa still to come back, and are one of maybe four AFC teams you’d say are in with a good shot of going all the way to the Super Bowl. Philip Rivers deserves to be in the MVP conversation, and with Melvin Gordon a late scratch he carried the offense on his shoulders all the way to London, returning with 306 yards, two scores and most importantly, the win.
8. Pittsburgh Steelers (up 1)
The Steelers went into their bye off an impressive, important win over the Bengals, and one which may well end up propelling them to yet another AFC North title. It now looks like Le’Veon Bell isn’t coming back for week eight after all, but James Conner’s 129-yard, two touchdown display in Cincinnati goes a fair way assuaging any running back concerns. On its day this is still up there with the league’s most high-powered offenses, and in an offense-friendly NFL it’d be foolish to count out the Steelers on any level.
7. Chicago Bears (down 2)
Imagine if that Mitchell Trubisky hail mary had gone all the way. Imagine. Unfortunately for the Bears they were stopped one tantalising yard short of the goal line, and drop two even more tantalising spots down this list. Finding the right balance between Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen in the backfield is going to be the key for this Chicago offense.
6. New England Patriots (up 11)
It’s very tempting to just never praise the Patriots, just because we’re all so used to this now, and is it really fun if it’s expected? But then you look at this team and see Josh Gordon racking up 100 yards receiving and Cordarrelle Patterson returning punts like only he can, and realise keeping them out of the top ten would be churlish and wrong. If you can beat the Chiefs in a shootout you must be an exciting team.
5. Minnesota Vikings (up 2)
Adam Thielen is within grasping distance of equalling Calvin Johnson’s record of eight straight games with 100+ yards receiving. That’s some story for a guy who couldn’t even get drafted when he left college in 2013, and may have never seen the NFL at all had his local Vikings not taken a punt on him. The Vikes look to have overcome their shaky start, and should be the favourites in a tough NFC North.
4. Cleveland Browns (up 2)
The Browns sit fourth in this list with a losing record, and that’s because they are guaranteed to bring the drama wherever they go. Four overtime games in seven weeks is frankly ridiculous behaviour, as are the multitude of ways they keep finding to blow them. Nick Chubb had 80 rushing yards and a touchdown in his first game as the feature back since Carlos Hyde’s departure to Jacksonville.
3. New Orleans Saints (down 1)
In the battle between the Saints offense and Ravens defense it’s kinda fair to say the Ravens won, even if the Saints did wind up winning the war. Next up for New Orleans it’s the Vikings in a repeat of last season’s crazy NFC playoff tilt, followed by a home game against the Rams. Crunch time, Mr Brees.
2. Los Angeles Rams (up 1)
Todd Gurley is on course to break LaDainian Tomlinson’s record of 31 touchdowns in a single season - he had another hat-trick against the 49ers on Sunday and just looks completely unstoppable. Add four sacks for Aaron Donald on the defensive side of the ball, plus two for Cory Littleton, and you have the most complete team in football by a distance. Oh, and that’s without even mentioning Jared Goff, Brandin Cooks and Sean McVay.
1. Kansas City Chiefs (-)
Seven weeks in and the Chiefs haven’t budged from top spot. Their next three games are against the Broncos, Browns and Cardinals, which means you’d back them to be 9-1 heading into the final stretch of the season. I could talk forever about Patrick Mahomes - he had yet another four-touchdown game in Sunday’s 45-10 blowout of the Bengals, but nearly as much credit should go to Andy Reid. How great would it be for him to get a Super Bowl with this exciting young team?