The NFL gave us a brutal Sunday slate filled with injuries and awful quarterback play, especially early on. What kind of movement can we expect in the NFL power rankings after another weird week of football?
Chiefs Are Proof That the More Things Change… in Week 7 Power Rankings
32) Carolina Panthers (32)
After shooting out of the gates hot against an underwhelming Dolphins defense, the Panthers proceeded to allow five touchdowns over the Dolphins’ next five drives, and the score was quickly 35-14 in Miami’s favor.
Bryce Young looked more comfortable against Miami than he had at any point in the year, but the Dolphins’ defense has underwhelmed so far in the Vic Fangio era.
31) New York Giants (31)
The Giants might be the worst team in the NFL, especially now that Daniel Jones is not on the field. They’re a bottom-three team in both offensive and defensive EPA. Their offensive line is the worst unit in the league, and their secondary simply can’t be depended upon as much as a Wink Martindale defense relies on man coverage with exotic blitzes in front.
Nobody expected a win against the Bills on Sunday Night Football. The Giants were already one of the worst units in the NFL on offense before Jones missed Sunday with a neck injury. The only thing keeping them from the final spot in the power rankings is that the Panthers remain winless.
30) Chicago Bears (30)
Although the offense wasn’t setting the world on fire with Justin Fields on the pitch, they are absolutely toast without him. His athleticism can overcome some of the ailments on the offensive line. Without his athleticism, they have little hope of consistently moving the ball.
And their defense remains one of the league’s worst units. If Fields misses any significant time, there is a good chance that the Bears will have the top two picks in the NFL Draft, and Fields will be in a different uniform in 2024.
29) New England Patriots (29)
The Patriots are a complete disaster. Mac Jones has apparently watched too much All-22 of the more mobile quarterbacks in the NFL because he’s out there attempting physics-defying throws … for him.
He is not a cross-body wizard, but he’s trying his best to be more than a distributor. We’ve seen him have success in that role before, but the Patriots’ weaponry is a bare cupboard.
28) Denver Broncos (27)
After playing cupcake defenses the first four weeks of the season, things have gotten more difficult for the Broncos offense. Russell Wilson finished with 95 passing yards, and he was sacked four times throughout the game.
The Broncos defense played much better against the Chiefs than they had at any point in the season leading up to the Thursday Night Football game against Kansas City. But was that due to anything on their end, or was it a somewhat sloppy TNF performance?
27) Arizona Cardinals (25)
The Cardinals were simply outclassed by the Rams. Two rosters that once looked similarly underwhelming now look worlds apart. A lot of that has to do with quarterback play, but the Cardinals defense had more holes in it against the Rams than 10-year-old underwear.
26) Minnesota Vikings (24)
Beating the partially-Fields-less Bears is like beating your seven-year-old cousin in Madden during Thanksgiving. The Justin Jefferson loss is one this offense cannot deal with long-term.
Windows everywhere were tighter without his gravity on the field, even against one of the league’s worst passing defenses. Cousins, who has continued to put up big statistical performances in 2023, could not do so against Chicago.
25) Las Vegas Raiders (23)
The Raiders came away with a win against the Patriots, but the only statement to be made from the game is that neither team is particularly impressive. The Raiders are simply less bad than a Patriots team that has looked completely lost on offense in 2023.
The potential loss of Jimmy Garoppolo will be tough for Las Vegas to manage. An already underwhelming offense and bad defense is getting even worse without Garoppolo under center.
24) Washington Commanders (28)
The Washington Commanders looked to be in … command … of the game in the first half, but their offense did everything they could to keep the Falcons in the game. Lucky enough for them, the Falcons offense wanted to win even less.
The Commanders had three legitimate possessions in the fourth quarter. They gained only one first down and could only manage 10 offensive plays for the entire quarter. But they were gifted two interceptions in that quarter from the inexperienced Falcons QB, and it helped them walk away with their second win of the season.
23) Pittsburgh Steelers (22)
Kenny Pickett and the Pittsburgh Steelers offense are struggling. However, the final thing we saw from the Steelers offense was a game-winning drive against one of the best defenses in the NFL. Pickett needs to do a better job of letting the game come to him and remaining calm in the pocket.
Defensively, the Steelers are a tale of front and back. T.J. Watt and Alex Highsmith are their defense, currently. Minkah Fitzpatrick is still outstanding in the middle of the field, but the secondary has struggled overall.
22) Tennessee Titans (21)
Mike Vrabel has clearly won whatever deal he made with the football gods. The Titans roster, on paper, hasn’t been talented enough to compete for a long time, but they continue to keep games close and find ways to remain in contests even when things appear to be falling apart.
But losing Ryan Tannehill is too much for the team to overcome. Malik Willis simply is not ready to be an NFL QB. If Tannehill has to miss time, the Titans’ only option if they want their offense to have a chance at consistently moving the ball is to go with rookie Will Levis, who missed most of camp and was also a project.
21) New York Jets (26)
Does anybody have a clue what to do about this football team? Their offensive line has disintegrated. Zach Wilson is still Zach Wilson. And they are missing multiple critical defensive pieces, including Sauce Gardner, arguably the best cornerback in the NFL.
But this defense plays unbelievably fast and makes the best quarterbacks in the NFL (Patrick Mahomes, Josh Allen, and now Jalen Hurts) look mortal. In fact, two of the Jets’ three wins have come against Allen and Hurts.
Football is insane.
20) Green Bay Packers (19)
The week off couldn’t have come at a better (or worse) time for Jordan Love. Throwing three interceptions against a team that had only accumulated seven in the previous 21 games is less than ideal.
The team is a mess defensively, as well. They have incredible talent at all three levels of the field, but they must come together schematically and from an execution perspective. The players are leaving too many plays on the field.
19) New Orleans Saints (18)
The Saints must seriously consider a potential change on offense at some point in the near future. Derek Carr’s shoulder is looking relatively normal two weeks after the initial injury. And while the offensive line is still underwhelming, the offense simply does not operate smoothly.
That’s a shame because the Saints defense remains fantastic. They are incredibly well-coached and have a phenomenal mix of veteran and young talent. But the team’s offense continues to let them down.
18) Atlanta Falcons (15)
The Atlanta Falcons are probably the most talented team in the NFC South. However, the Falcons offense, specifically Desmond Ridder, is not good enough to take the next step and be a legitimate NFC contender.
Ridder simply does not have it. He was touted for his athleticism and processing ability at the college level. But he had accuracy issues in college, and he has made some absolutely horrific decisions in two of the last three weeks.
17) Indianapolis Colts (14)
The Indianapolis Colts can succeed with Gardner Minshew, but only if he can keep them on schedule and not force passes that end up in the hands of the defense. Protecting the ball must be his top priority. Although we’d love it if he could consistently create explosives, that simply is not his game.
If he needs his shoulder surgically repaired, losing Anthony Richardson for the season will likely condemn the Colts to a losing record. But that could be a blessing in the long run because they’ll have more draft capital in a class that appears outstanding.
16) Houston Texans (20)
The Houston Texans are incredibly fun. C.J. Stroud has been playing some outstanding football early on as a rookie, but he met a defense today that is as well-coached as a defense comes. Dennis Allen hasn’t found much success as a head coach, but his defensive mind has created consistently impressive defenses.
But this Texans team is scrappy. Despite lacking a competitive roster, they sit at 3-3 heading into their week off. And with games upcoming against the Panthers, Buccaneers, Bengals, and Cardinals, there is a good chance they’re sitting at .500 or better when they meet Jacksonville again in Week 12.
15) Los Angeles Chargers (17)
The Chargers are coming off of an off week, and they have a lot to play for against the Dallas Cowboys. Kellen Moore will certainly want to “light up the scoreboard” against his former team. After a somewhat long relationship as the play-caller in Dallas, the two sides believed it best to go their separate ways.
Khalil Mack had himself a decent day in Week 4, and Cowboys right tackle Terence Steele hasn’t necessarily played well on the right side in pass protection so far in 2023.
The Chargers’ pass rush dominated the Cowboys’ offensive line, but Dak Prescott found the fountain of youth and looked like the Mississippi State version of himself, sneaking away from the pressure they created often. Otherwise, like the Cowboys on the other side, the Chargers played an undisciplined brand of football. And Justin Herbert was off most of the night because of the pressure Dallas put on him.
14) Los Angeles Rams (13)
The Cardinals did what the Cardinals do against Los Angeles. They kept the game close for a long time against a better opponent, but their lackluster roster ended up falling short in the end.
Kyren Williams exploded in the second half when Sean McVay remembered that running the ball was actually allowed in the NFL. The Rams averaged nearly seven yards per touch on the ground and nearly eight through the air. And the young pass rush was consistently getting pressure on Josh Dobbs.
13) Tampa Bay Buccaneers (12)
The Buccaneers are a difficult team to get a read on. They clearly have the talent on offense and defense to compete in the NFC South, but their offensive performance was carried by unsustainable third-down play from Baker Mayfield over their first four games.
That third-down magic disappeared against the Detroit Lions, who appear to be a very real NFC contender. The Tampa Bay defense is good at all three levels, but they allowed Detroit to control the ball for four quarters on Sunday.
12) Seattle Seahawks (8)
The story of Seattle’s game against Cincinnati is one of missed opportunities. The offense thoroughly outplayed their counterpart, but going just 1 of 5 in the red zone, including only 1 of 4 in goal-to-go situations, was their Achilles heel.
But we may want to keep an eye on the Seattle defense. After allowing touchdowns on the Bengals’ first two drives, they didn’t allow multiple first downs on a drive for the rest of the game. The only points they allowed came off a Smith interception. The Bengals didn’t gain a single yard on the drive but ended up kicking a field goal.
11) Cincinnati Bengals (16)
The Bengals are so back. Everybody thinks about Joe Burrow, Ja’Marr Chase, and the rest of the offensive weapons. However, many people conveniently forget that it was Lou Anarumo’s defense that propelled them during their Super Bowl run.
Like the Commanders offense in the fourth quarter, the Bengals offense gave Geno Smith and Seattle every opportunity to win that football game. But the Bengals defense played out of their skulls to the final whistle.
All of a sudden, they’re back to .500.
10) Cleveland Browns (11)
The Cleveland Browns are Super Bowl contenders if Deshaun Watson comes back healthy but, most importantly, good. His last performance was his best as a Brown, but he’s missed multiple weeks now and is apparently having issues throwing a football.
Jim Schwartz has transformed this defense into something that even the talent’s greatest supporters could not have fathomed. It’s been a talented unit on paper for a long time, and seeing how much a good architect and play-caller can do for a unit should forever be an example of how important coaching is, even at the NFL level.
9) Jacksonville Jaguars (10)
Scoring 37 points will always be impressive, but the Jaguars scored twice off of Colts turnovers. However, three of their touchdown drives were nine or more plays and gained at least 65 yards along the way.
Jacksonville is funny because Travis Etienne and Trevor Lawrence both had some fantastic moments throughout the game, but each player produced only pedestrian numbers. Although Lawrence has yet to produce crazy stats as a professional, anybody who watches a lot of film falls in love with his game.
8) Baltimore Ravens (9)
Realistically, the Baltimore Ravens should have absolutely demolished the Tennessee Titans in London. However, Baltimore could only manage one touchdown in six red-zone trips. The offense looked very good until they got into the red area, where the offensive game plan felt stale.
Lamar Jackson and the passing attack still look outstanding, especially when Jackson is kept clean. While the rushing attack struggled against Tennessee, Jackson’s legs were the key to moving the chains multiple times throughout the game.
7) Buffalo Bills (4)
The Buffalo Bills are one of the most interesting teams in the NFL. They teeter between a roster that absolutely dominates opponents and puts stinkers on the field. Their offense has been absolutely dominant in 2023, and although their defense was decimated by injuries in the London game, the unit has some depth and a ton of continuity remaining to survive.
Taking care of business against the Giants won’t win Buffalo any favors, even with a defense lacking many of their core players. In the battle for AFC dominance and a playoff bye, the Bills absolutely must win the most winnable games. Even if it’s ugly, they can’t allow what happened to them against the Jets in Week 1 to happen again in 2023.
6) Dallas Cowboys (7)
Who are the Dallas Cowboys? Their offense looks a lot different from a season ago. Their coach, who is the play-caller, has admitted that they’re a defensive team. But he also assured fans and is maybe trying to convince himself that they’re not playing cowardly football.
But they are.
Prescott is avoiding the middle of the field like the plague. The offense lacks any sort of explosive element, and the passing attack is predictable and static. It appears to be everything it was when Mike McCarthy was shown the door in Green Bay.
The offense remained static against the Chargers, but Prescott played some of his best football since 2019 against his former offensive coordinator. But Dallas played an incredibly undisciplined game riddled with penalties.
5) Philadelphia Eagles (3)
The Eagles have played some ugly football so far in 2023, but they’ve continuously been able to come away with ugly wins. Philadelphia has been coming out slow and playing better offensively in the second half of games, but the opposite was the case against New York.
The Jets’ defense has found a way to make the best in the game look average this year. Jalen Hurts tied a career-high with three INTs against New York. Philadelphia’s lack of dominance has been concerning. Although they’re eighth in offensive EPA, they’re only 17th defensively, and the passing attack has yet to find its groove.
4) Miami Dolphins (5)
The Dolphins are tough to come to terms with this year. On one hand, their offense is legitimately ridiculous. There is a very good chance that we have never seen anything like this. The 2007 Patriots, the Greatest Show on Turf, and even Dan Marino’s 1984 season feel underwhelming compared to what we’ve seen so far from the 2023 Dolphins.
But they might be the USC Trojans. They might be a team that has a nearly unstoppable offense but a defense that will allow points in bunches against good teams.
3) Detroit Lions (6)
The Lions are very real. Before their dominating performance against the Buccaneers, they ranked eighth in offensive EPA and 10th in defensive EPA. The offense seems to just now be hitting their groove, and this defense is significantly better than a season ago. They’re playing as a top-three team in the NFC, and they are one of the best teams in the NFL.
They’re now sixth in offensive EPA and seventh on defense. Their offensive line is dominant, their quarterback is playing incredibly well, and Ben Johnson will likely be a head coach somewhere next season.
2) San Francisco 49ers (1)
The 49ers losing a two-point game against arguably the best defense in the NFL is not the end of the world. However, potentially significant injuries to Trent Williams, Christian McCaffrey, and Deebo Samuel could be.
Brock Purdy looked mortal against Cleveland, but Jim Schwartz has had Kyle Shanahan’s number for their entire careers, and the Browns defense has been otherworldly in 2023.
The Browns probably didn’t “figure out” Purdy or the 49ers offense. Not a single other defensive unit in the league can do what they did against the 49ers.
But losing a Hall of Fame LT, the best RB in the NFL, and arguably the most dangerous post-catch WR in the league will be a lot for Purdy to overcome.
If nothing else, we’re going to learn just how good Purdy truly is over the next few weeks if those guys miss time.
1) Kansas City Chiefs (2)
The Chiefs are doing things slightly differently in 2023. The offense is still analytically good, but it’s not a head taller than the rest of the league like we’re used to it being. Patrick Mahomes is playing at less than 100% with an ankle injury, as is his only reliable receiving weapon — although Rashee Rice is beginning to have something to say about that, particularly in the red area.
A 19-8 win may not feel dominant on the surface, but the Denver offense had no answer for the Chiefs defense, which has played like one of the best units in the league so far in 2023.