NFL POWER RANKINGS: WEEK 7

BY ADAM GREENE

For the first time this season, we have a team hold the top spot for three consecutive weeks as the Arizona Cardinals continue to rack up the wins (against quality opponents no less)

We do have a new cellar dweller as an overseas Jacksonville Jaguars victory allowed them a reprieve from the Power Rankings doghouse.

1. ARIZONA CARDINALS (6-0)

The Cardinals are about cost tons of bettors money as they try to pick their loss instead of just judge each game alone. I can give you a freebie, though. They ain’t losing this week as they host the Houston Texans. So, bet away. Last week: No. 1

2. LOS ANGELES RAMS (5-1)

Matthew Stafford has played down facing his old team, the Detroit Lions, this week and he should. The divorce was amicable and he basically called his shot as to where he’d be traded. Still, I’m sure he’d like to smack them around a bit for old time’s sake. The irony is, the Lions’ last winless season is what landed them Stafford in the first place. Last week: No. 3

3. TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS (5-1)

No one seems very afraid of the Buccaneers this year, in spite of Tom Brady and the fact that the only team that’s beaten them is ranked one spot above them. They almost seem like an afterthought. So that probably means they’ll win the Super Bowl again. Last week: No. 4

4. GREEN BAY PACKERS (5-1)

Aaron Rodgers punctuated a touchdown run against the Chicago Bears by telling the fans in the end zone that he owns them. I’m guessing the fans in question responded with a few shoulder shrugs and some knowing nods. Last week: No. 5

5. BALTIMORE RAVENS (5-1)

I debated putting the Ravens higher, but considering these rankings are meaningless and arbitrary, it doesn’t matter. They’re certainly atop the AFC right now and after eking through the first month of their schedule, they’re now cruising through, having discovered that Lamar Jackson can actually play quarterback. Who (besides me) knew? Last week: No. 7

6. DALLAS COWBOYS (4-1)

The Mike McCarthy effect is real and it will cost the Cowboys down the road, probably in the postseason when it could hurt the most. I say again, if anyone has Jerry Jones’ ear, don’t let Kellen Moore out of your building. Last week: No. 8

7. BUFFALO BILLS (4-2)

I don’t hate that the Bills went for the win against Tennessee on fourth down, but I hate the specific call — a QB sneak under center. I would have put Allen in the shotgun, called a 2-point pass play and let Allen scramble around until he found an open guy or spot to run it in. Last week: No. 2

8. LOS ANGELES CHARGERS (4-2)

The Chargers forced two interceptions and sacked Lamar Jackson three times and still lost. This was not the time for the offense to take the week off. This loss will probably resonate down the schedule and into playoff seeding. Last week: No. 6

9. KANSAS CITY CHIEFS (3-3)

It was a nice break for the Chiefs as they put the appropriate beat down on the Washington Football Team. Now, one of the worst defenses in the league has to face a team fielding the NFL’s version of a cheat code, Derrick Henry, on the road. Patrick Mahomes better be ready to score some points. Last week: No. 10

10. CINCINNATI BENGALS (4-2)

The Bengals are a pick six and a missed field goal away from being 6-0. Ja’Marr Chase is already dusting off a shelf for his Offensive Rookie of the Year award and anyone laying a bet that Zac Taylor would be fired at the end of the season has already tossed that cash into the woodchipper. Last week: No. 12

11. TENNESSEE TITANS (4-2)

After the Titans knocked off the Bills thanks to just another ridiculous Derrick Henry performance, former NFL wide receiver Dez Bryant tweeted that Henry was the player everyone created when they were a kid on Madden. He’s not wrong. Henry is leading the NFL in rushing with 783 and his yards after contact (587) would be good enough to be ranked No. 2 above Cleveland Browns running back Nick Cubb (523). Here’s what makes me nervous about Tennessee going forward. Julio Jones can’t stay on the field and Ryan Tannehill, after putting up Patrick Mahomes numbers for the Titans in 2019 and 2020, looks more like Jackson Mahomes this year. Last week: No. 13

12. SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS (2-3)

This team can’t catch a break on the injury front and can’t even benefit in the draft from a down year since they shipped their next two first rounders off to the Philadelphia Eagles to select Trey Lance. There’s no reason to start badmouthing Lance just yet, but these 50 and 51.7 completion percentages in his first two starts can’t make anybody feel great. Last week: No. 9

13. CLEVELAND BROWNS (3-3)

Everyone on the Browns team is banged up and Baker Mayfield will miss at least one game (and probably more) with a torn labrum in his left shoulder. This was a team that fielded a playoff roster in Week 1 that can’t keep that roster on the field. Last week: No. 11

14. LAS VEGAS RAIDERS (4-2)

Las Vegas is the lowest ranked 4-2 team because I’m not sure how sustainable the “win it so we can shove it in Jon Gruden’s stupid face” strategy can last. They’ve got a spunky Philadelphia Eagles team coming to town to keep it rolling. Last week: No. 20

15. CHICAGO BEARS (3-3)

Take heart, Bears fans. Not only do you have Justin Fields as your team’s quarterback for (hopefully) the long run, but Aaron Rodgers is probably bailing out of the NFC North next season. The future is looking bright. Last week: No. 14

16. PITTSBURGH STEELERS (3-3)

I don’t think the Steelers saved their season with their win over the Seattle Seahawks, but they certainly kept it afloat. Now they have a week off with a bye to prepare for a Browns team of some kind come Halloween, depending on who Cleveland can prop up on the field. Last week: No. 21

17. DENVER BRONCOS (3-3)

That’s three losses in a row for a Denver team hoping to break through this season and head coach Vic Fangio just hoping to stay employed. They catch a break when they play at a banged up Browns squad fielding its “B” team. Last week: No. 15

18. CAROLINA PANTHERS (3-3)

Sam Darnold has now thrown six interceptions over three consecutive losses and, last week against the Vikings, completed just 41.4 percent of his passes. I do believe the Comeback Player of the Year award is slipping away. Last week: No. 16

19. NEW ORLEANS SAINTS (3-2)

With Deshaun Watson likely heading to Miami, Jameis Winston has his path cleared to thoroughly disappoint the Saints fanbase by playing great one week, then soiling the bedsheets the next. Last week: No. 17

20. MINNESOTA VIKINGS (3-3)

If the Vikings keep winning in the last seconds and overtime, Mike Zimmer might finish the 2021-22 season employed in Minnesota. And no one wants that. Especially Mike Zimmer. Last week: No. 24

21. INDIANAPOLIS COLTS (2-4)

Carson Wentz is starting to look healthier and his play is reflecting that. I wasn’t a fan of keeping him on the field with no usable knees or ankles, but apparently Frank Reich knows when to gamble. Still, this is a team whose entire season could wrap at any time with the wrong loss or another Wentz injury (or COVID-19 diagnosis).  Last week: No. 26

22. SEATTLE SEAHAWKS (2-4)

With the NFC so top heavy, the Seahawks almost have to run the table with Geno Smith at QB at this point to stay in the playoff hunt. Last week: No. 18

23. WASHINGTON FOOTBALL TEAM (2-4)

Well, the Taylor Heinicke era has apparently run its course as Washington now becomes the early frontrunner to acquire Tua Tagovailoa from the Miami Dolphins. Heinicke has played himself into a lucrative and lengthy back up QB career, where he’ll end up making $35-40 million before it’s over. Shed no tears for him. No. 19

24. NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS (2-4)

Stats are great and all, but before I start thinking the Patriots have struck gold with Mac Jones, maybe he should win a game against a team not starting one his fellow rookie quarterbacks. Last week: No. 22

25. PHILADELPHIA EAGLES (2-4)

Jalen Hurts has had two good games this season and one of them was a loss. Somehow, he kept the Eagles close against the Buccaneers last week in spite of completing just 46.1 percent of his passes for only 115 yards. Lucky for him, in spite of Philly’s draft capital, this upcoming draft class doesn’t look NFL ready by any stretch. There’s no reason for the Eagles not to go all in on Hurts this season, win or lose. Last week: No. 23

26. ATLANTA FALCONS (2-3)

After a bye week off and a visit overseas, the Falcons are ready to disappoint their US-based fans again. The good news for Atlanta is they have some winnable games coming up on the schedule. Of course, those are the exact games they’ve lost so far this season. Last week: No. 25

27. MIAMI DOLPHINS (1-5)

I guess taking Tagovailoa over Jusitn Herbet has put everyone on the Dolphins squarely atop the hot seat, because this apparent trade for Deshaun Watson (not completed as of this writing, but maybe by the time you read it), reeks of desperation. I do think he’ll make an immediate impact, though it may be too late for a playoff run this season. Last week: No. 27

28. JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS (1-5)

Hey, look at you, winning a game when, literally, no one in the United States was looking. Urban Meyer didn’t save his job, but he definitely bought himself a few more weeks with the win. And, honestly, that was a gutsy call to throw the ball on fourth down with the time out in your pocket to set up a gamewinning field goal instead of the Hail Mary everyone expected. That’s the kind a play a man who deserves a lap dance calls. Last week: No. 32

29. NEW YORK JETS (1-4)

The good news for the Jets is they didn’t lose last week. Of course, they did have the bye. Now it’s back to reality and a New England Patriots team that has made a habit of knocking off rookie quarterbacks. In fact, teams that field rookies are the only squads the Pats have beaten this year. Last week: No. 28

30. NEW YORK GIANTS (1-5)

Daniel Jones had his two worst games of the year against the two best teams he’s faced. Coincidence? Regardless, Joe Judge better be updating his resume and checking on Groupon deals for U-Hauls. Last week: No. 29

31. HOUSTON TEXANS (1-5)

Well, it looks like the cornucopia of draft picks are finally about to roll in for Deshaun Watson. It’s too bad there’s not a general manager, head coach or any executive part of a winning franchise working in Houston that will know how to use them. Last week: No. 30

32. DETROIT LIONS (0-6)

Jared Goff makes his not so triumphant return to Los Angeles. There’s a movement for the fans to show Goff some support postgame and I’m down with that. He’ll probably need it after getting buried under Aaron Donald for 60 football minutes. Goff, of course, is now 0-14 without Sean McVay as his head coach and it’s not likely to change this week as he faces his old boss. I don’t think this is an 0-17 team, but this franchise has pulled off the winless season before. It’s too bad biting knees and ankles doesn’t put points up on the scoreboard. Last week: No. 31

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