All of the top teams either won, or had bye weeks. So why the switch at No. 1? Why have the Ravens leap over the Patriots? Because the Ravens are playing the best of any team right now. They’ve beaten many top teams, including the Patriots, and they’ve beaten them soundly. The Pats and Niners both registered comeback wins. But right now, the Ravens are crushing it with Lamar Jackson and a defense that’s completely turned it around.
1. Baltimore (8-2) – Of late, they’ve whipped the Seahawks, Patriots, and the Texans. The eye test, and just about every other test tells you they’re the best team in football right now.
2. PATRIOTS (9-1) – Defense? Check. Special Teams? Check. Offense? Not there yet. So Tom Brady continues his crankiness after wins.
3. San Francisco (9-1) – They didn’t crumble coming back from a loss, and a 16-0 deficit against the up-and-coming Cardinals. Jimmy Garoppolo made some mistakes, but he ultimately got the job done with 4 TD passes.
4. Seattle (8-2) – After consecutive overtime wins Weeks 9 and 10, their bye couldn’t have come at a better time. Now they have to tackle the NFL’s third most difficult schedule the rest of the way.
5. Green Bay (8-2) – They had to have been planning and plotting during their bye week for their upcoming showdown with the Niners. The NFC’s top seed could weigh in the balance.
6. New Orleans (8-2) – Had to figure the offense would get back on track against the Buccaneers. Perfect rebound game.
7. Minnesota (8-3) – They only needed to score every time they touched the ball in the second half to pull off a remarkable comeback and avoid being upset by the Broncos.
8. Kansas City (7-4) – Patrick Mahomes didn’t have a big game with his arm in Mexico City, but he did with his legs which was a significant development in his comeback from having a dislocated kneecap.
9. Dallas (6-4) – This year, they’re relying more on Dak Prescott to win games. Who says the Cowboys aren’t smart?
10. Houston (7-4) – Looks like they’re going to be duking it out with Indy the rest of the way for the top spot in the AFC South.
11. L.A. Rams (6-4) – They’ve turned back to their run game out of necessity, and it’s given them some life.
12. Indianapolis (6-5) – The Colts are best when they go ground-and-pound on offense. The loss of lead back Marlon Mack with a fractured hand not what they were looking for as they fight to keep in playoff contention.
13. Buffalo (7-3) – A mistake-free, cringe-free performance by Josh Allen. There’s always a first time for everyone.
14. Oakland (6-4) – Jon Gruden deserves to be in the discussion for Coach of the Year. Between the early travel and a grueling schedule, the Raiders have not only weathered the storm, but are in the playoff hunt.
15. Philadelphia (5-5) – Too many injuries, not enough firepower on offense. Carson Wentz is having a hard time doing more, with less.
16. Pittsburgh (5-5) – Before all the craziness in Cleveland, the Steelers saw their offense for what it is, how it’s limited, and how Mason Rudolph really isn’t the best at the controls.
17 Carolina (5-5) – Kyle Allen has thrown eight interceptions in the last four games, including four against the Falcons. Talk about trending in the wrong direction.
18. Tennessee (5-5) – They return from their bye week with a chance to make a move on the Colts and Texans.
19. L.A. Chargers (4-7) – Cruel and unusual punishment to keep losing games by one score or less, with mistakes killing them at the wire, and most of them delivered by Phillip Rivers.
20. Jacksonville (4-6) – Nick Foles didn’t bring any magic. Just more growing pains for the Jaguars offense.
21. Cleveland (4-6) – Lost in the Myles Garrett tantrum and that nasty finish against the Steelers, the Browns actually have a winning streak going.
22. Detroit (3-6-1) – The Lions put up a good fight, but are always done in by a defense that can’t make stops.
23. Atlanta (3-7) – Whatever the Falcons did on their bye week, more teams would love the secret. They’ve won two straight, are playing well in all phases, and got their head coach off the hot seat for the time being.
24. Chicago (4-6) – Hipgate has taken over the windy city. No one believes Mitchell Tribusky was taken out of Sunday night’s game because of a hip injury. It seemed more like a benching for poor play.
25. Arizona (3-7-1) – They blew a 16-point lead to the Niners, and then lost with 31 seconds left after retaking the lead. That’s no comfort going into a bye week.
26. Tampa Bay (3-7) – They had the misfortune of playing a Saints team trying to atone for being upset the previous week.
27. Denver (3-7) – The wins that turn into losses keep piling up. Not the best sign for first-year head coach Vic Fangio.
28. N.Y. Jets (3-7) – The ghosts are gone. Two straight wins against two bad teams. Some progress is better than no progress.
29. Miami (2-8) – Three straight might have been asking for too much. The defense turned back into pumpkins.
30. N.Y. Giants (2-8) – Will we see Saquon Barkley the rest of the way? The star running back hasn’t looked right since returning from an ankle injury. After a bye, is there a point to further punishment with the team out of it?
31. Washington (1-9) – The empty seats at FedEx Field are no surprise. Neither were the “Sell the Team” chants aimed at Daniel Snyder from those in attendance after ninth straight home loss with not much hope in sight.
32. Cincinnati (0-10) – Shocking development. They were officially eliminated from the playoffs. The first of a sorry lot.
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