It was tempting to bump the New England Patriots up to the top spot after they cruised through another team with Tom Brady under center. Beating up on the Cincinnati Bengals is more impressive than defeating the Cleveland Browns, so there’s a case that the Patriots have done enough to prove they’re the No. 1 team.
But they do have a loss, and until the undefeated Minnesota Vikings give reason to believe they’re not the best team, the No. 1 spot belongs to them. Lucky for them, a bye week gave no such reason, while the rest of the power rankings exploded.
Not even half of the top 14 teams from last week's rankings earned victories this week, meaning there were many winners from the Nos. 15-26 range. Basically, the teams that were supposed to be good looked bad and the bad teams looked good. But don’t worry, the really bad teams still looked really bad.
That doesn’t mean it’s time to flip the power rankings upside down, but it is a reminder that the NFL is weird sometimes and the parity of the league can make for some odd results.
It also means teams like the Denver Broncos and Pittsburgh Steelers won’t fly down the rankings after a bad loss, because there’s nowhere for them to go. The Steelers didn’t look like a top-10 team during a loss to the Miami Dolphins, but could they really slide behind Washington or the Kansas City Chiefs after blowing them out earlier in the season?
The Dolphins, Jacksonville Jaguars, and San Diego Chargers didn’t have much room to move up either when all the teams around them won too.
The Oakland Raiders are tough to figure out. They played some of the worst defense in NFL history to start the year and burned off a good amount of their offseason hype, then rallied to win three straight and get to the top of the AFC West. With the Denver Broncos losing on Thursday, the No. 1 spot in the division was there for the taking and instead they were taken to school by the Chiefs.
Oakland scored first and then just got plain beat by the Chiefs in just about every aspect after that in a game that took just 2:46 to finish. Then the Chiefs went on their way, leaving town looking nothing like the team that lost to the Steelers by 29 in their last outing. [scratches head]
The Green Bay Packers are another team that’s difficult to understand, because how in the world is Aaron Rodgers playing this poorly? He’s been otherworldly for nearly a decade, but now he’s a disaster. Consider this from Sports Illustrated’s Peter King:
Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers was never lower than fifth in yards per pass attempt in the NFL in the five seasons between 2010 and 2014. Stat mavens love yards per pass attempt, because it encompasses completion percentage and depth of completion.
Since the start of the 2015 season, Rodgers, at a moribund 6.63 yards per attempt, is 33rd among all NFL passers (minimum 200 pass attempts).
Johnny Manziel (6.73) is better.
Johnny Manziel is better!
The Chiefs started 2015 with a 1-5 record before winning 10 straight regular season games to earn a playoff spot. So maybe it’s OK to excuse them for a loss to the Houston Texans and a demolition at the hands of the Steelers.
They’re still a team with a lot of talent and the bye week certainly helped them get healthy and straighten out some issues. Of course, Andy Reid’s red hair played a factor in the win too.
Andy Reid on the secret to being 16-2 after bye weeks: “I don’t know. I don’t know that. Red hair, man.”— Pete Sweeney (@pgsween) October 17, 2016
The next five games for the Chiefs are AFC South and NFC South opponents, which is good news as long as the Atlanta Falcons aren’t included (and they aren’t).
Washington deserves some credit for battling back from an 0-2 start to win four straight and climb into contention in a division that somehow looks like it’s the NFL’s toughest. Also, they deserve credit for saving democracy, but that’s a different conversation.
Bottom of the trash heap
Leave it to the good ole trash heap to restore some order.
The Cleveland Browns, Chicago Bears, and Indianapolis Colts all kept things close, but couldn’t quite find a way to get a win. In the case of the Bears and the Colts, it was the classic case of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.
Then there’s the San Francisco 49ers, who replaced Blaine Gabbert with Colin Kaepernick, but does that really matter when LeSean McCoy hits them with three touchdowns and averages more than 7 yards per carry? The 49ers would need a miracle worker at quarterback to string together some wins, but they don’t even have an average quarterback to work with.
|Week 7||Team||Last week|
|2||New England Patriots||2|
|8||Kansas City Chiefs||13|
|13||Green Bay Packers||8|
|16||New York Giants||18|
|21||San Diego Chargers||25|
|22||New Orleans Saints||23|
|23||Los Angeles Rams||19|
|27||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||27|
|28||New York Jets||24|
|31||San Francisco 49ers||31|