1. New Orleans Saints (7-1) | Last week’s rank: 2
The Saints move up to No. 1 on the strength of their pulsating victory Sunday in New Orleans over the previously unbeaten Rams.
2. New England Patriots (7-2) | Last week’s rank: 3 Tom Brady actually seemed confused at times Sunday night by the looks given to him by the Green Bay defense.
3. Kansas City Chiefs (8-1) | Last week’s rank: 4 Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs took care of business Sunday in Cleveland and now have a tuneup against the Cardinals before their Nov. 19 meeting with the Rams in Mexico City. 4. Los Angeles Rams (8-1) | Last week’s rank: 1 The loss in New Orleans is significant only if the Rams must go back there for the NFC title game. 5. Los Angeles Chargers (6-2) | Last week’s rank: 5 The Chargers are still the second-best NFL team in L.A. But the gap between the two is not all that wide at the moment. 6. Pittsburgh Steelers (5-2-1) | Last week’s rank: 6
The four straight 100-yard rushing games by RB James Conner and the four straight wins have made it easy for the Steelers to stop fretting about when or if Le’Veon Bell will show up. 7. Carolina Panthers (6-2) | Last week’s rank: 8 The Panthers are an interesting team. But are they an actual postseason threat to the Saints or Rams in the NFC? 8. Houston Texans (6-3) | Last week’s rank: 10
The Texans were fortunate in Denver with the missed FG by the Broncos’ Brandon McManus that could have been the game-winner. But good luck is part of it when things are going well. And they are going very well for the Texans, with six straight wins and their bye week now at hand. 9. Philadelphia Eagles (4-4) | Last week’s rank: 9
The Redskins’ vulnerability means that the NFC East is there for the taking for the Eagles, even with their earlyseason inconsistencies. 10. Chicago Bears (5-3) | Last week’s rank: 12
Even after the Khalil Mack trade, few figured the Bears would be leading the NFC North at the halfway point of their season, not with the Vikings and Packers once looking so formidable. But there’s no reason that the Bears can’t win this division. 11. Minnesota Vikings (5-3-1) | Last week’s rank: 13 Suddenly, there’s a lot to like about the way the Vikings are playing. 12. Cincinnati Bengals (5-3) | Last week’s rank: 11
The Bengals, as they return from their bye, reportedly will play without WR A.J. Green for at least two games.
13. Atlanta Falcons (4-4) | Last week’s rank: 18
The Falcons have reassembled their once-broken season, with three straight wins following a 1-4 start. 14. Washington Redskins (5-3) | Last week’s rank: 7
Just when it seemed like time to begin trusting the Redskins as a legitimate playoff contender, they gave a dud of a performance against the Falcons that was made even worse by the season-ending injuries suffered by WR Paul Richardson and guards Brandon Scherff and Shawn Lauvao.
15. Miami Dolphins (5-4) | Last week’s rank: 21
It does not appear that Ryan Tannehill is ready to return to the lineup. That’s not the worst thing. 16. Tennessee Titans (4-4) | Last week’s rank: 25 The Titans got off to a shaky, turnover-marred start Monday night in Dallas. But QB Marcus Mariota and the offense settled down from there. 17. Green Bay Packers (3-4-1) | Last week’s rank: 14 The Packers had some bad luck against the Patriots, with the injuries and the questionable ejection of Jermaine Whitehead. 18. Seattle Seahawks (4-4) | Last week’s rank: 15 The Seahawks, in this season of transition, have overachieved even to be at .500. 19. Baltimore Ravens (4-5) | Last week’s rank: 16 There’s little sense in firing Coach John Harbaugh or benching QB Joe Flacco in favor of rookie Lamar Jackson. 20. Indianapolis Colts (3-5) | Last week’s rank: 19
The Colts return from their bye to play three straight home games against the Jaguars, Titans and Dolphins. 21. Dallas Cowboys (3-5) | Last week’s rank: 17
The addition of WR Amari Cooper to the offense helped out a little bit Monday night. But not nearly enough.
22. Jacksonville Jaguars (3-5) | Last week’s rank: 24 It’s now or never for the Jaguars. 23. Detroit Lions (3-5) | Last week’s rank: 20
The Lions said when they traded WR Golden Tate that they weren’t giving up on their season. 24. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-5) | Last week’s rank: 22 All of this Ryan Fitzpatrick stuff is entertaining to watch.
25. Denver Broncos (3-6) | Last week’s rank: 23 Nothing is going the Broncos’ way, to the point that front office executive John Elway is being asked about the possibility of an in-season coaching change. 26. Arizona Cardinals (2-6) | Last week’s rank: 26
The Cardinals became the most recent contributor to the Sam Bradford Fund before becoming the latest NFL team to part ways with him. 27. New York Jets (3-6) | Last week’s rank: 27 No, Sam Darnold is not playing well at all. 28. San Francisco 49ers (2-7) | Last week’s rank: 32 Nick Mullens? Seriously? 29. Cleveland Browns (2-6-1) | Last week’s rank: 28 Maybe the performance against the Chiefs in Gregg Williams’s first game as the Browns’ interim coach will lead to him getting four more secret head coaching offers.
30. Buffalo Bills (2-7) | Last week’s rank: 29
All you need to know about Nathan Peterman as a starting QB in the NFL is that throwing three interceptions and having a 45.4 passer rating against the Bears actually qualified as a decent outing by his standards.
31. New York Giants (1-7) | Last week’s rank: 31 When the bye week is your best week of the season, things are not going well.
32. Oakland Raiders (1-7) | Last week’s rank: 30
The performance Thursday night against the Niners was about as dreadful as it gets.