Again, our top 4 teams remain the same as last week – a 3 point loss for the no.3 Chiefs against the no.2 Rams wasn’t enough to move the Chiefs down or the Rams up. If anything, it solidified the position of both. The Steelers have been gradually moving up the rankings and they crack the top 5.
At the bottom end, the battle continues between the Raiders, Cardinals and 49ers for the overall no.1 pick in next year’s draft.
The biggest risers this week are Baltimore (up 4) and Seattle, Indianapolis and Detroit (all up 3)
The biggest fallers this week are Cincinnati (down 4) and Philadelphia (down 3)
1. New Orleans Saints (9-1) (last week’s ranking: 1)
The Saints continued to solidify their position as Super Bowl favourites by overwhelming last year’s champion the Philadelphia Eagles 48-7 in the Superdome. With the 48 points, the Saints scored 40+ for the sixth time this season – equalling a modern-day NFL record. The Saints are on target to score 605 points for the season…a single point short of the NFL record. Drew Brees threw for 363 yards and 4 touchdowns and Tre’Quan Smith had 157 yards receiving, while Mark Ingram racked up 103 yards on the ground. Brees currently leads the league with a passer rating of 126.1 (which would be a record if he maintains it for the remainder of the season). Wide receiver Michael Thomas went over the 1,000-yard receiving mark for the season and is 2nd in the league with 82 receptions. Defensively, New Orleans had 3 interceptions including 2 from ex-Packer Chris Banjo. Dez Bryant’s newly acquired replacement, Brandon Marshall, was on the inactive list this week – the offense doesn’t look like it needs him right now.
Next up: The Saints host the Atlanta Falcons in a Thanksgiving night game (Thursday).
2. Los Angeles Rams (10-1) (last week’s ranking: 2)
In an incredible, high octane, Monday Night Football game, the Rams just about overcame the Kansas City Chiefs 54-51 to maintain their spot at no.2 in our rankings. It was the highest scoring Monday Night game in league history (removing the 1983 Packers 48-47 victory over Washington from the record books). Jared Goff threw for 413 yards and 4 touchdowns (with no interceptions), while Brandin Cooks had 107 yards receiving. Todd Gurley was held to 55 yards on the ground – but with it, became the first player over the 1,000-yard rushing mark for the season. The Rams defense had 3 interceptions (including the game clincher in the final 2 minutes) whilst forcing 2 fumbles of Patrick Mahomes – both forced by Aaron Donald on quarterback sacks. Donald leads the league with 14.5 sacks for the season. The Rams will need a rest after this game – they’ll get it with their bye.
Next up: The Rams have their bye this coming week (week 12). In week 13, they travel to Detroit to play the Lions.
3. Kansas City Chiefs (9-2) (last week’s ranking: 3)
Despite playing a game for the ages, the Chiefs fell just short of the Rams 54-51 in third highest scoring game in NFL history. Patrick Mahomes’ incredible rate of touchdown passes continues – with 6 more in this game, he now has a league high 37 for the season. With a career high 478 passing yards this week, Mahomes also leads the league in that category with 3,628. He is on course to throw 54 touchdown passes this season – 1 short of the record held by Peyton Manning. Mahomes is also on course to have just the 9th 5,000 yard passing season in NFL history. The downside for Mahomes this week was that he was a part of 5 crucial turnovers – throwing 3 interceptions and losing 2 fumbles. Wideout Tyreek Hill had an amazing night with 215 yards receiving with 2 touchdowns, whilst Travis Kelce had 127 yards receiving. With his big night, Hill went over the 1,000-yard receiving mark for the season. The Chiefs defense continues to give up lots of yards but has 36 sacks and 11 interceptions on the season.
Next up: The Chiefs have their bye this coming week (week 12). In week 13, they travel to Oakland to play the Raiders.
4. New England Patriots (7-3)(last week’s ranking: 4)
The Patriots had their bye this past week.
Next up: The Patriots have a road trip to New York to play the Jets.
5. Pittsburgh Steelers (7-2-1) (last week’s ranking: 6)
If you watched the Steelers first half performance this past week, it would be difficult to believe that they could turn themselves around to comeback and beat the Jacksonville Jaguars. But come back they did and their 20-16 victory moved them to 7-2-1 and firmly in pole position in the AFC North. The Steelers trailed 16-0 in this game, and nothing in Ben Roethlisberger’s 53 yards passing in the first half gave any indication that they would even come close. But Big Ben threw for 261 yards (and 2 touchdowns) in the second half and ran for the winning score with just 3 seconds left in the game. Off the field this week, Le’Veon Bell didn’t report to the team and is now ineligible to play for the rest of the season.
Next up: The Steelers travel to Denver to play the Broncos
6. Los Angeles Chargers (7-3)(last week’s ranking: 5)
Despite 401 passing yards from Philip Rivers, the Chargers surprisingly went down to the Broncos 23-22 – being beaten on a last second field goal. Rivers also threw 2 touchdown passes but had 2 interceptions which were crucial. Even with the loss, the Chargers remain firmly in position for the no.1 wild card in the AFC. They will have been pleased to welcome back edge rusher Joey Bosa, who was active for the first time this season.
Next up: The Chargers host the Arizona Cardinals
7. Houston Texans (7-3) (last week’s ranking: 9)
Coming off their bye week, the Texans earned a hard-fought 23-21 victory over the Washington Redskins and in doing so, they won a franchise record 7th game in a row. This was an inconsistent, at best, performance from Houston as they turned the ball over 3 times (2 interceptions thrown by Deshaun Watson and a fumble by DeAndre Hopkins) and missed 2 field goal attempts, but a 101-yard interception return for a touchdown by Justin Reid proved crucial in the victory. The Houston defense came up strong with a 5-sack day.
Next up: The Texans host the Tennessee Titans
8. Chicago Bears (7-3)(last week’s ranking: 10)
In a crucial NFC North match-up, the Bears defeated the Vikings 25-20 on Sunday Night to secure their position at the top of the division. Mitch Trubisky struggled through the air, throwing 2 interceptions but his 43 yards on the ground helped the Bears move the chains when they needed to. Chicago’s defense continues to play tough – they had 2 interceptions this week, including a 27-yard return for a touchdown by Eddie Jackson. With the victory, the Bears moved 1½ games clear of the Vikings in the division.
Next up: The Bears travel, on a short week, to play the Lions in Detroit on Thanksgiving Day (Thursday)
9. Carolina Panthers (6-4) (last week’s ranking: 7)
Trailing 20-19 late in the game, the Panthers head coach Ron Rivera rolled the dice by going for a two-point conversion attempt…but the attempt failed on a poor throw by Cam Newton, and Carolina dropped to an unexpected defeat to the Detroit Lions. Newton threw for 357 yards and 3 touchdowns and D.J. Moore had 157 yards receiving but it wasn’t enough for the Panthers who had kicker Graham Gano miss an extra point and a field goal attempt. Carolina, who has long been the favourite for the no.1 wild card spot in the NFC is suddenly under pressure for a play-off spot.
Next up: The Panthers host the Seattle Seahawks in a key match-up that has huge wild card playoff implications in the NFC.
10. Minnesota Vikings (5-4-1)(last week’s ranking: 8)
Coming off their bye week, the Vikings headed into one of their biggest games of the season with expectations of downing the Bears and moving into the divisional lead in the NFC North. But it wasn’t to be…the Bears held the Vikings to just 22 yards rushing and intercepted Kirk Cousins twice as Minnesota dropped a 25-20 decision. The Vikings have now turned the ball over 7 times in their last three games. On the plus side, Adam Thielen went over 1,000 yards receiving for the season – and continues to lead the league with 85 receptions, while DE Danielle Hunter remains in 2nd place in the league with 11.5 sacks. The Vikings do at least have the chance for revenge against the Bears on the last weekend of the season.
Next up: Minnesota hosts the Green Bay Packers on Sunday Night Football – a game which may be considered “must win” for both teams.
11. Washington Redskins (6-4)(last week’s ranking: 11)
In the 3rd quarter of this past week’s game against the Texans, QB Alex Smith suffered a gruesome looking leg injury – remarkably, coincidently exactly 33 years to the very day since Joe Theismann suffered his infamous, and equally gruesome looking, serious leg injury against the Giants. Smith’s injury turned out to be a both a broken tibia and fibula and he underwent surgery on Sunday. Smith will be replaced for the rest of the season, as he was on Sunday, by Colt McCoy. The Redskins fell to a close 23-21 defeat which, to stretch the aforementioned 33-year coincidence even further, was the same score by which Redskins lost the game on Theismann’s fateful day. Washington now stands just 1 game ahead of the rising Dallas Cowboys. They will be hopeful that they’ll get some help this week with the possible return of outstanding OT Trent Williams from his thumb injury. On Monday, Washington signed former Jets QB Mark Sanchez to back up McCoy.
Next up: The Redskins travel to Dallas to play the Cowboys on Thanksgiving Day (Thursday).
12. Baltimore Ravens (5-5) (last week’s ranking: 16)
Coming off their bye week, the Ravens had Lamar Jackson starting at QB for the injured Joe Flacco (hip injury) and Jackson had more than 100 yards rushing – the first 100-yard rushing day for a QB since 2016 (Colin Kaepernick). Also, no QB in more than 50 years had previously had a 100-yard rushing day in his first career start. The downside is that Jackson carried the ball 27 times – not a number likely to lead to longevity for a QB. In the meantime, Jackson led the Ravens to a much needed 24-21 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals…helped by a further 115 yards rushing from Gus Edwards. It’s possible that Flacco will be available to play next week – the question is, does he automatically get his starting position back?
Next up: The Ravens host the Oakland Raiders
13. Tennessee Titans (5-5) (last week’s ranking: 12)
After 2 consecutive wins, including a blow out of the Patriots, the Titans came crashing down to earth in a 38-10 defeat to the Colts. With the loss, the Titans fall to 5-5 and into a second-place division tie with their opponents, Indianapolis. Both teams are two games behind the Houston Texans. QB Marcus Mariota injured his elbow in the 2nd quarter and was knocked out of the game, replaced by Blaine Gabbert. It’s the second injury to the right arm that Mariota has suffered this season. Very worryingly, Titans Defensive Co-ordinator Dean Pees fell ill during the game and was taken to a local hospital. As of Sunday night he was being kept in for observation.
Next up: The Titans travel to Houston to play the Texans.
14. Seattle Seahawks (5-5) (last week’s ranking: 17)
The Seahawks remained firmly in the middle of the NFC wild card picture by coming from behind to beat the Packers 27-24 in an enthralling Thursday Night game. The Seahawks racked up 173 yards on the ground while Russell Wilson played an effective part at QB with 225 yards and 2 touchdowns passing. The Seahawks defense came up with 5 sacks of Aaron Rodgers.
Next up: The Seahawks travel to Carolina to play the Panthers in a crucial NFC match-up
15. Green Bay Packers (4-5-1) (last week’s ranking: 13)
Despite leading by 11 points in the 2nd quarter, the Packers dropped to another close but disappointing defeat to the Seahawks. The 27-24 loss puts the Packers in jeopardy of missing out on a play-off spot – indeed it’s likely that they will have to win 5, and perhaps all 6, of their last 6 games to make the postseason. Head coach Mike McCarthy is increasingly getting the heat for his team’s performance – although analysts appear to be split as to whether McCarthy or Aaron Rodgers are more to blame for the Packers current predicament. In a big blow for the Packers, Mike Daniels has been ruled out “for a few weeks” due to a foot injury suffered this past week against the Seahawks.
The Packers are now 8th in offense (7th in passing, 17th in rushing)
The Packers are now 12th in defense (5th in passing, 26th in rushing)
Next up: The Packers travel to Minnesota to play the Vikings on Sunday Night – it’s a critical match-up for both teams
16. Dallas Cowboys (5-5) (last week’s ranking: 18)
Ezekiel Elliott rushed for 122 yards and a touchdown and Dak Prescott played a solid, not spectacular game, which also included a rushing touchdown, as the Cowboys beat the Falcons 22-19. With the win, Dallas moves to within 1 game of the Washington Redskins atop the NFC East. Dallas hosts Washington this week. Elliott now has 953 yards rushing this season (2nd in the league). DeMarcus Lawrence continues to star on the defensive side of the ball – he had 1.5 sacks this week – as does outstanding rookie Leighton Vander Esch who had an interception for the second straight game.
Next up: The suddenly in contention Cowboys host their traditional Thanksgiving Day game (Thursday), playing the NFC East division-leading Washington Redskins.
17. Philadelphia Eagles (4-6) (last week’s ranking: 14)
Last year’s champion Eagles are teetering on the edge of being out of the play-off picture after losing this week to the Saints 48-7. Carson Wentz threw 3 interceptions and the offense was generally anaemic, whilst the defense couldn’t stop the Saints offense all day. The injury woes in the secondary just get worse for the Eagles, with Avonte Maddox being knocked out of this past week’s game with a knee injury…added to that was a wrist injury to C Jason Kelce who left the game and didn’t return. One positive for the Eagles - Zach Ertz leads all tight ends for the season with 77 receptions for 804 yards. The Eagles have a horrendous schedule in the last 5 weeks of the season – they have Washington to play twice, Dallas, Los Angeles Rams and the Houston Texans over those last 5 games.
Next up: Philadelphia host the New York Giants
18. Indianapolis Colts (5-5)(last week’s ranking: 21)
Andrew Luck continued his incredible run of games with 3 or more touchdown passes as the Colts demolished the Tennessee Titans 38 -10. With the win, the Colts evened up their record at 5-5. Luck threw for 297 yards and 3 touchdowns and his mobility coupled with a fine offensive line means that he hasn’t been sacked in more than 5 games and 200 passing attempts. Does Luck now have an outside chance at the league MVP? Luck’s main target was T.Y. Hilton who had 155 receiving yards and 2 touchdowns. How good were the Colts offensively? The Titans were the league’s no.1 scoring defense prior to this game. Indianapolis has clawed themselves into play-off contention. On the defensive side of the ball, outstanding rookie Darius Leonard leads the league with 104 tackles. Leonard also has 5 sacks, 4 forced fumbles and an interception – he is in strong contention for defensive rookie of the year honours.
Next up: The Colts host the Dolphins in what comes close to a play-off contention elimination match-up in the AFC
19. Cincinnati Bengals (5-5) (last week’s ranking: 15)
The Bengals lost a big intra-divisional match-up with the Ravens 24-21 and with the loss, Cincinnati fell back to .500 for the season. Cincinnati’s offense was poor all day – gaining just 255 yards – whilst the defense gave up a huge 258 yards on the ground and a total of 403 yards. A 52-yard field goal miss (that would have tied the game) with a little over 4 minutes left just about summed up their day. There is little doubt that the Bengals missed WR A.J. Green who missed the game with a toe injury – they’ll be hoping that he can go next week.
Next up: Cincinnati hosts the Cleveland Browns.
20. Detroit Lions (4-6)(last week’s ranking: 23)
In an upset, the Lions squeezed past the Panthers 20-19 to stay on the edge of wild card playoff contention. The Lions held onto their 1-point lead when the Panthers went for the win with a (failed) two-point conversion attempt late in the game. Matthew Stafford had a solid, if not spectacular, day throwing for 220 yards and 1 touchdown – but crucially had no interceptions. Kerryon Johnson rushed for 87 yards before he was knocked out of the game with a knee injury – his availability going forward was not known at the time of writing – he will be a big loss for the Lions if he has to miss any games.
Next up: The Lions host the Bears on Thanksgiving Day (Thursday)
21. Atlanta Falcons (4-6) (last week’s ranking: 19)
In a game the Falcons badly needed in order to keep pace with the other wild card contenders in the NFC, they dropped a close one to the Dallas Cowboys 22-19…and with it, dropped to 4-6 for the season. It was the second straight disappointing defeat for the Falcons and with their schedule ahead (including New Orleans and Carolina), it’s difficult to see them getting to the postseason. The season’s bright spot is the continued excellent play by one the league’s best receivers; Julio Jones, who had another 100-yard receiving day, whilst safety Damontae Kazee leads the league with 5 interceptions.
Next up: Atlanta travels to play the Saints in New Orleans in a Thanksgiving night game (Thursday).
22. Miami Dolphins (5-5)(last week’s ranking: 20)
The Dolphins had their bye this past week.
Next up: Miami travels to Indianapolis to play the Colts
23. Denver Broncos (4-6) (last week’s ranking: 25)
Coming off their bye week, the Broncos pulled the upset by going into Los Angeles and defeating the Chargers 23-22, thanks to a last second winning field goal by Brandon McManus. The Broncos have had some tough losses this season, so to finally get over the line will be a great boost for them. Von Miller continues to be a dominant force on defense – a sack and an interception this week – and Case Keenum continues to quarterback an efficient but not exciting offense. The offensive star on this team remains RB Phillip Lindsay – 79 yards on just 11 carries this week.
Next up: The Broncos host the Pittsburgh Steelers
24. Cleveland Browns (3-6-1) (last week’s ranking: 22)
Cleveland had their bye this past week. But the big news or fake news out of Cleveland was the possibility that the Browns were considering interviewing former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice for their head coaching vacancy. GM John Dorsey stated the Browns had not considered Rice in their search for a new head coach.
Next up: Cleveland travels to Cincinnati to play the Bengals.
25. Jacksonville Jaguars (3-7) (last week’s ranking: 24)
The Jaguars lost a heartbreaker to the Steelers 20-16 and with the defeat their chances of making the playoffs were just about extinguished. This loss was their sixth straight. Jacksonville played a dominant first half and at one stage led 16-0, but, like many struggling teams, they found a way to lose – gaining just 74 yards total in the second half. One standout for the Jags was CB Jalen Ramsey who had 2 interceptions.
Next up: Jacksonville hosts the Buffalo Bill in a battle of 3-7 teams.
26. Buffalo Bills (3-7)(last week’s ranking: 27)
Buffalo had their bye this week. Rookie QB Josh Allen could be back for their next game.
Next up: This coming week, Buffalo travels to Jacksonville to play the Jags.
27. New York Giants (3-7) (last week’s ranking: 29)
Who is playing QB for the Giants dressed in an Eli Manning uniform? The Giants beat the Buccaneers 38-35 with Manning playing well for the second straight week – this time completing 17 of 18 passes for 231 yards and 2 touchdowns in an almost perfect performance. Indeed, the one incompletion he did have should probably have been caught by Saquon Barkley. Talking of Barkley, the rookie had 142 yards rushing with 2 touchdowns and a further touchdown receiving as the Giants offense had an outstanding day. The defense also came up big with 4 interceptions.
Next up: The Giants travel to Philadelphia to play the Eagles.
28. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-7) (last week’s ranking: 26)
After some toing and froing at the QB position, Ryan Fitzpatrick did get the start again this week, but he didn’t make it through the game – being benched in the 3rd quarter in favour of Jameis Winston. Fitzpatrick had thrown 3 interceptions before being taken out. Winston came in and played well throwing 2 touchdown passes but also a crucial interception. Tampa Bay’s 38-35 loss to the Giants almost certainly eliminates the Bucs from play-off contention in the NFC. Bizarrely, with all of the great offensive teams at the top of these rankings, the Bucs continue to lead the league in overall offense. The Bucs lost TE O.J. Howard during the game with an ankle injury. His status for next week is unknown at the time of writing. Quite where the Bucs go from here is anybody’s guess and their coach Dirk Koetter is now one of a number of head coaches whose jobs are in jeopardy.
Next up: The Bucs host the San Francisco 49ers.
29. New York Jets(3-7) (last week’s ranking: 28)
The Jets had their bye this week, which was probably a welcome relief for under fire head coach Todd Bowles. Bowles’ job probably depends upon the Jets having a remarkable turnaround for the remainder of the season.
Next up: The Jets have a home game against the Patriots.
30. Oakland Raiders (2-8) (last week’s ranking: 32)
Despite rumours, Jordy Nelson did not retire during this past week – he didn’t play against the Cardinals however due a knee injury which saw him sit out the game on the inactive list. But the Raiders managed a win without Nelson – a 23-21 victory on a last second field goal by Daniel Carlson. With that win, the Raiders no longer have the worst record in football by themselves (they are tied with the 49ers and Cardinals) – and actually would have the no.3 pick if the draft were today.
Next up: The Raiders travel to Baltimore to play the Ravens
31. San Francisco 49ers (2-8)(last week’s ranking: 31)
The 49ers had their bye this past week but bizarrely, with the Raiders winning, they currently “own” the no.1 pick in the 2019 NFL draft…obviously 6 weeks for this to change.
Next up: San Francisco travels to Tampa Bay to play the Buccaneers
32. Arizona Cardinals (2-8) (last week’s ranking: 30)
David Johnson rushed for 137 yards, but the Cardinals weren’t able to overcome mistakes, including 2 interceptions thrown by Josh Rosen, as they went down 23-21, on a last second field goal, to the Oakland Raiders. Whilst Rosen did have 3 touchdown passes, he also completed less than 50% of his throws and the 2 picks were key. With the loss, the Cardinals drop into a 3-way tie with the Raiders and 49ers for the first overall pick in the 2019 NFL draft – the Cardinals would pick no.2 if the draft were today.
Next up: The Cardinals travel to Los Angeles to play the Chargers
Find Peter on twitter here: @The_IT_Hedgehog