The weather is getting colder, the hits are getting harder and the strong teams are starting to separate themselves from the weak ones. That is how we like our football in November. The teams that are sliding on this list are doing so because they are not coming together as a team–for whatever reason–and the converse can be said about the teams that are moving up.
As always, while I truly am trying to be as subjective as possible during the writing of this article, I do acknowledge that it is impossible to not be biased towards your favorite NFL team, and against your rivals. With the explanation for the headline out of the way, let’s get into what you came to see!
1 | Pittsburgh Steelers | 8-0 | last week (1)
I talked last week about how the Steelers have continued to have success, although they have a bottom barrel defensive line. That wasn’t the only problem for the Steelers on Sunday. In a close win over the lowly Cowboys, the Steelers lacked passion offensively and also saw Ben Roethlisberger sustain a “Minor” injury. Pittsburgh won’t be able to survive this division if they play as they did in Dallas, or if Ben misses any time.
2 | Kansas City Chiefs | 8-1 | last week (2)
Kansas City let Carolina hang around and almost lost the football game. Are they possibly just getting bored? The rest of their division seems like they cannot separate themselves from each other, leaving KC in a dangerous spot. They have their division locked up, so hopefully, the chance to get a bye will be enough to get this team playing at their full potential.
3 | Baltimore Ravens | 6-2 | last week (3)
The Ravens only two losses this season are to the two teams ahead of them on this list. Lamar Jackson has not been as electric as last year, but this is still a top-three team in the NFL. They showed that on Sunday with a huge win on the road against the Colts.
4 | Green Bay Packers | 6-2 | last week (5)
Aaron Rodgers loves to make the 49ers pay for not drafting him. One week after an embarrassing loss to the division-rival Vikings, the Packers showed why they are in contention for the NFC’s bye. San Fransisco had no shot, and not all of it can be attributed to their injuries. Green Bay was simply too good that night, and if they play like that, it is hard to see anyone beating them on their way to a Super Bowl berth.
5 | Buffalo Bills | 7-2 | last week (7)
Buffalo looks like a team that can hang with anybody. Thye have faced a very difficult schedule and it doesn’t ease up this week as they face off against the Cardinals. It should be a shootout, based on how both defenses have fared this year. Buffalo, especially, will need to improve on their 5.8 yards given up per play. That number ranks them just 19th in the league.
6 | Seattle Seahawks | 6-2 | last week (6)
Russell Wilson is doing everything he can to get his team into the number one seed, but his defense is doing the exact opposite. The recently added firepower to their defense proved they are capable of getting after the passer, sacking Josh Allen four times. What they didn’t show, and what they haven’t shown all year, is that they can defend the pass.
7 | New Orleans Saints | 6-2 | last week (12)
This team was able to weather the storm of not having one of the best receivers in the league. Now having a chance to get him back and fully integrated by the playoffs, the Saints are a team on the rise. I will be the first one to admit that I counted them out, and I still think they are a fraud, but I have to give them the respect that their wins deserve.
8 | Tampa Bay Buccaneers | 6-3 | last week (4)
The chemistry issues for this team pale in comparison to the communication issues that the Bucs’ are having on defense. We are talking pre AND post-snap. Something has to be fixed, and the good thing for Tampa is, they have seven games left to fix the issues and they ARE fixable. Teams with a lack of talent are going to be the ones that do not stand a chance to improve, this is not one of those teams.
9 | Tennessee Titans | 6-2 | last week (9)
The Titans are another team that is capable of hanging with anyone but has a limited ceiling. The offense, surprisingly, is not holding Tennesee back, it is the defense. The secondary has already given up 19 passing touchdowns, tied for the third-most in the NFL.
10 | Los Angeles Rams | 5-3 | last week (10)
This offense can be pushed around. It’s that simple. The good thing for the Rams, though, is that when they don’t get pushed around, they usually win the football game. There is still plenty of time for this team to find its true offensive identity. The defense is certainly holding it down in the meantime, putting up top-ten numbers in almost every category.
11 | Arizona Cardinals | 5-3 | last week (8)
The Cardinals are building something special out in Arizona. The issue is, the offense is lightyears ahead of the defense. If you look at the numbers, you would initially think that this should be a good defense. They are top ten in red-zone and third-down percentage, and they are top ten in points given up, but a closer look tells a different story. The Cardinals have been penalized the fourth most out of any defense in the league, leading to the fourth-worst time of possession in the NFL.
12 | Indianapolis Colts | 5-3 | last week (11)
Philip Rivers and the Colts were not able to make enough plays to beat Baltimore. That is a real bummer for a defense that certainly played well enough to win. Scoring zero points after the half will usually always lose a football game, however, and the Colts learned that on Sunday.
13 | Cleveland Browns | 5-3 | last week (14)
The Browns are going to have to figure out a way to win games without their best receiver, maybe they should look to the Saints for some pointers. Their first chance at that was not a success, to say the least, as Cleveland only managed to put up six points.
14 | Miami Dolphins | 5-4 | last week (17)
The Dolphins made a curious move to switch quarterbacks immediately before two huge matchups. It seems like they knew what they were doing, as a 3-4 team has now defeated the Rams and Cardinals in back-to-back weeks to improve to 5-4 and catapult itself into the playoff conversation. This defense is legit, and the offense is making huge strides. If I were in Vegas and Cleveland, I would definitely be worried.
15 | Chicago Bears | 5-3 | last week (15)
It is going to be hard for the Bears to compete for a wild-card spot in the NFC, considering the limitations of their offense. The entire offense needs an overhaul, and will probably get one in the off-season. One has to tip the cap to Allen Robinson, though, as he has continued to ball-out and demand the opponent’s best defender each week.
16 | San Fransisco 49ers | 4-5 | last week (13)
This team has been destroyed by injuries and Covid, but still plays hard and with heart each week. Having heart will only get you so far, however, and they know that. The 49ers are probably not ready to compete with Nick Mullens under center, no matter how good of a scheme job Kyle Shanahan can pull off.
17 | Las Vegas Raiders | 5-3 | last week (16)
One win into a three-game trip through the division, one that culminates with a chance to beat Kansas City for a second time, the Raiders are looking like a team that is only held back by its injuries/covid issues. If Las Vegas can get healthy, they can make noise in their hunt for a playoff spot.
18 | Minnesota Vikings | 3-5 | last week (20)
Back-to-back wins have this team on a roll and looking to get back into the mix for a wild-card spot. It is probably too late, especially because of the conference they play in, but if the NFC West continues to cannibalize itself, they have a small chance.
19 | New England Patriots | 3-5 | last week (18)
New England is dangerously close to being 2-6 with an insanely embarrassing loss to the Jets on national television. Let that sink in for a second. That is how far this once-great franchise has fallen. They are also in a bad spot because their mediocrity has them not even in the sweepstakes for a top-five draft pick.
20 | Carolina Panthers | 3-6 | last week (19)
The Panthers have undergone more changes than practically every team in the past few years. Big props to Matt Rhule for having this team ready to compete and win games, even without Christian McCaffrey. They might be one of the most exciting teams in the league, but not one of the best just yet.
21 | Los Angeles Chargers | 2-6 | last week (21)
The Chargers are going to be looking for a new coach in the off-season and should have suitors beating down their doors to have a shot at grooming the young Justin Herbert. The amount of last-second losses and blown leads are something only Atlanta and Detroit fans can understand.
22 | Philadelphia Eagles | 3-4-1 | last week (23)
This might go down as the worst division winner in league history. Despite doing virtually everything they can to be a bad football team all while being decimated by injuries, they are still in the first place. I’m hoping, for the league’s sake, that they can get it together come January. I have my doubts, though. The eagles depend too much on the big play; despite having a top-13 offense in most categories, they are just 23rd in first downs.
23 | Atlanta Falcons | 3-6 | last week (25)
Two wins in a row for the Falcons. Thay almost made it another blown lead, though. Atlanta is finally finding ways to turn its talent into victories, but it is far too late for a playoff push. Matt Ryan is probably auditioning for his job, much like Matthew Stafford.
24 | Detroit Lions | 3-5 | last week (22)
Detroit is falling in these rankings about as fast as their team fell to the ground while attempting to tackle Dalvin Cook on Sunday. Detroit may be in the market for a new quarterback in the off-season, as well, making these last games of the season that much more important. If Stafford plays well, he could have the Lions thinking he is their leader of the future, if he falters, they may start to believe that he is no longer the guy.
25 | Denver Broncos | 3-5 | last week (24)
Drew Lock almost pulled off another comeback victory, but let’s be honest, it was against the Falcons. Even mullets could make a comeback on Atlanta. Denver will still be in the market for a franchise quarterback in the off-season, giving John Elway yet another chance to screw it up.
26 | Cincinnati Bengals | 2-5-1 | last week (26)
If the Bengals can spend the off-season upgrading the defense, as well as it upgraded the offense last off-season, 2021 will be a great year in Cincinnati. Joe Burrow seems like the real deal, and last week was a really big win for this franchise. If they can finish the year around the .500 mark, the Bengals can build some serious steam heading into next year.
27 | Dallas Cowboys | 2-7 | last week (27)
The Cowboys played with a lot of heart on Sunday, it was just not enough to take down a very good Steelers team. Rest assured, though, if they play like that against most teams they will find a way to win. They will, however, be limited for the rest of the season by their quarterback play–even if they get Andy Dalton back.
28 | Houston Texans | 2-6 | last week (28)
The Texans defeated a Jaguars team that they probably should have beat. That’s about as much credit as they deserve, as they were almost upset by a rookie sixth-round pick who was making his first career NFL start.
29| New York Giants | 2-7 | last week (31)
The Giants made a coaching change in the off-season, but not enough changes to the roster to make me believe in them this season. They do have the benefit of playing in possibly the worst division in football. That is still unlikely to take them above the .500 mark even once all year.
30 | Washington Football Team | 2-6 | last week (29)
31 | Jacksonville Jaguars | 1-7 | last week (30)
The Jaguars have predictably fallen back to earth after a week one win against the Colts. They have also fallen back into the Trevor Lawrence sweepstakes. Jake Luton made a very good impression in his first start, but if Jacksonville ends up in the top-five, expect them to be drafting a quarterback.
32 | New York Jets | 0-9 | last week (32)
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