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NFL Power Rankings Week 7, 2018: The Patriots are laughing their way to the top

Go ahead, doubt the Patriots. They’ll show you. The Chargers, Ravens, Vikings, Eagles, and Steelers join the Patriots as teams on the rise heading into Week 7 in the NFL.

NFL: Kansas City Chiefs at New England Patriots Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

The Patriots proved on Sunday that we were all crazy for doubting them during their 1-2 start to the season. New England beat Kansas City on Sunday Night Football in the shootout we all expected. It was a thriller that has the Patriots climbing up the Week 7 NFL power rankings and landing at the No. 2 spot, right ahead of the Chiefs. The Chiefs fought hard and almost staged an impressive comeback, but you can never count out Tom Brady and he proved to be the guy you want leading a game-winning fourth-quarter drive.

The Patriots and Chiefs are still taking a back seat to the 6-0 Rams. And though Los Angeles has been slowed down in recent weeks (the Rams only beat the Seahawks by two and the Broncos by three), they’re the NFL’s only remaining undefeated team.

On the rise

The Chargers beat the Browns with ease in Cleveland. That means a lot more this year than it has in the past. And don’t forget, the Chargers are the only team that lost to the Browns from 2016-2017. Philip Rivers is getting help all around from a solid defense (that’s still waiting on Joey Bosa’s return) and a run game that saw Melvin Gordon score three touchdowns on Sunday. Los Angeles is trending upward.

The Ravens might have had Sunday’s best win (though the Cowboys could have something to say about that) after shutting out the Titans in Tennessee. When you notch 11 sacks in a single game, you’re bound to win ... and climb up the power rankings.

The 3-2-1 Vikings are hitting their groove, thanks in large part to the Kirk Cousins-Adam Thielen connection that has seen Thielen record 100-plus yards in every game this season. The next few weeks will be huge for the Vikings. They play the Jets on Sunday before a big Divisional Round playoff rematch with the Saints (we’re ready to revisit the Minnesota Miracle) and then division matchups with the Lions, Bears, and Packers in consecutive games.

The Eagles beat the Giants to kick off Week 6, but it seemed like New York lost more than Philadelphia won. Still, a win’s a win and Carson Wentz is doing well in his return from ACL surgery.

The Steelers — much like the Patriots — had a shaky start to the season, but are now turning things around. The most recent example of that was a disrespectful comeback against the Bengals, who just can’t seem to ever beat Pittsburgh.

On the decline

Speaking of the Bengals, they fell a few spots this week due to their loss to their hated divisional rival. The Bengals saw nearly every member of their secondary leave the game due to injury and entered the week already banged up. They’ll take on another tough opponent next week in the Chiefs.

The Bears also lost embarrassingly — for them it was in overtime against the Dolphins. That wouldn’t be too bad, except that Brock Osweiler was starting at quarterback for Miami.

The Panthers seem to have a lot of issues, and their 23-17 loss to Washington looked worse than the final score sounds. Washington was winning 17-0 before the Panthers attempted a comeback that fell short. Cam Newton was the Panthers’ leading rusher with 43 yards and rookie receiver D.J. Moore had two costly fumbles, both of which he lost.

How about the Jaguars? One minute they’re beating the Patriots, the next they look like hot trash against the Cowboys. The injuries aren’t to blame, though Blake Bortles is, at least in part. Luckily, Leonard Fournette will be back soon.

The rest

Washington remains a question mark after a nice win over the Panthers that followed a beatdown by the Saints. The Titans want respect but are doing nothing to earn it. The Seahawks impressed while across the pond, and the Texans are on a three-game winning streak after a rough start to the year. The Cowboys appear to be improving in a number of ways. The Jets go as Sam Darnold goes and this week was a good one for the rookie quarterback. The Buccaneers went from “wow, the Bucs are great” to “wow, the Bucs are bad” in a matter of weeks.

The 49ers, Broncos, Colts, Bills, Giants, Cardinals, and Raiders round out the bottom of this week’s rankings. It appears that Oakland is the worst team in the league (at the moment) as just about everything is going wrong and Jon Gruden isn’t learning from his mistakes.

NFL Week 7 Power Rankings

Ranking Team Last Week
Ranking Team Last Week
1 Los Angeles Rams 1
2 New England Patriots 6
3 Kansas City Chiefs 2
4 New Orleans Saints 3
5 Los Angeles Chargers 12
6 Baltimore Ravens 9
7 Minnesota Vikings 10
8 Cincinnati Bengals 4
9 Philadelphia Eagles 11
10 Pittsburgh Steelers 16
11 Miami Dolphins 13
12 Chicago Bears 8
13 Green Bay Packers 15
14 Carolina Panthers 5
15 Jacksonville Jaguars 7
16 Washington 19
17 Tennessee Titans 14
18 Seattle Seahawks 20
19 Cleveland Browns 17
20 Houston Texans 26
21 Dallas Cowboys 28
22 New York Jets 24
23 Atlanta Falcons 25
24 Detroit Lions 22
25 San Francisco 49ers 27
26 Tampa Bay Buccaneers 18
27 Denver Broncos 21
28 Indianapolis Colts 23
29 Buffalo Bills 30
30 New York Giants 29
31 Arizona Cardinals 32
32 Oakland Raiders 31