We’re through another week, and we’re arguably even further away from sanity. The league continues experimenting with psychedelics, this time heading into the desert to partake in an ayahuasca retreat. The middle tiers of the NFL Power Rankings continue to grow, creating a logjam of mediocrity.
Week 7 NFL Power Rankings: Tier 6 | Definitely Bad Teams
There are no surprises in Tier 6. The teams here are all competing for top picks in the 2023 NFL Draft.
The Panthers did their best to keep things tight against the Los Angeles Rams, but they couldn’t muster anything on the offensive side of the ball. And ultimately, their defense couldn’t continue stopping the Rams.
Robbie Anderson definitely wasn’t happy with the offensive performance. He got in the face of his receiving coach early, and then was escorted to the locker room in the second half. He’d been on the trade block before the game, but it’s most likely he’s on the chopping block now.
Carolina will continue to be anemic on offense and spend another year wasting a young and talented defense.
The Bears are a disaster. Their offensive roster was a barren wasteland heading into the offseason, and the team didn’t even try to create a mirage with offseason moves. The new front office simply let it stay bad.
They lack weapons, and their offensive line is in shambles. Chicago’s offense is based around the intermediate passing attack, but they can’t protect or separate well enough to be any good at it, which leaves the team peeling their young QB off the grass more often than not.
That said, the Bears largely outplayed Washington during an abysmal Thursday Night Football game, which is yet another example of why the game shouldn’t exist to begin with.
The Lions struggle to win football games, but they don’t normally struggle to be competitive and fun. They got their doors blown off a week ago by the Patriots, but they had a week to get back on the right track as their in-season vacation hit.
Detroit’s defense has struggled all season, but their offense has kept them in games. If Aaron Glenn can turn things around even a little bit, Detroit could play spoiler to teams later in the season.
The Houston Texans aren’t a very good football team, but they appear headed in the right direction after what seems to have been an outstanding draft in 2022. They got to sit back, relax, and watch the madness that is the NFL season during their bye week in Week 6.
After the bye, Houston’s season will be all about finding out exactly who Davis Mills is. There is a chance they’ll be able to draft one of the top quarterbacks in the 2023 NFL Draft. Can he do enough to sway them against that decision?
Even when all hope seems lost, the Pittsburgh Steelers find a way. Even when Ben Roethlisberger was hurt a few years back and Pittsburgh was dealing with Mason Rudolph and a guy named “Duck” at QB, they remained relevant.
Now, without their best defensive player, they found a way to hold Tampa Bay to just 18 points and avoid starting 1-5. Hopefully Kenny Pickett is okay because it is imperative to see exactly what they have in the rookie QB before 2023.
The Commanders could only manage 86 net passing yards on Thursday night. Carson Wentz hurt his thumb at some point during the game, which could end up being a blessing in disguise for the Commanders’ offense. Taking a shot on the reclamation project was necessary.
However, Taylor Heinicke may give Washington’s offense more juice, and finding out if there’s some lightning in the Sam Howell bottle in a lost season wouldn’t be the worst decision.
Week 7 NFL Power Rankings: Tier 5 | The Probably Bad Teams
Just seven short weeks ago, you couldn’t have convinced me that some of these teams would be here. However, things are going very poorly for the teams in this tier.
We’ll see just how much of a difference DeAndre Hopkins makes, but it’s unlikely one man can turn around this Arizona Cardinals offense. Extending Kyler Murray is a decision the Cardinals felt they had to make, and it makes sense to gamble on such a unique talent.
However, extending Steve Keim and Kliff Kingsbury…
This roster is bad, and it was bad a year ago when they went 11-6. Unsustainable defensive production kept them afloat despite having an underwhelming offense a season ago. Kingsbury hasn’t figured out how to consistently put Murray and this offense into advantageous positions.
The biggest issue is that their schedule isn’t getting any easier.
The Denver Broncos are on an unsustainable path. Their inability to cash in with touchdowns in the red zone doesn’t seem real at this point. They didn’t have the sustained offensive troubles we have seen in other games, they just simply never had the ball on Monday night.
And after a quick start to the game, the offense fell off a cliff in the second half, punting on four of five drives. After starting 10 of 10, Russell Wilson finished 5 of 18.
Their defense is legitimately outstanding, however. While the Chargers’ offense lacks any semblance of explosiveness to begin with, the Broncos made them look completely anemic. This didn’t seem possible after moving on from one of the best defensive minds in modern football, but Ejiro Evero has that unit playing some of the most dominant football in the league.
Green Bay Packers
There’s no way to sugarcoat it: the Green Bay Packers are a bad football team right now. They might not remain bad all season, but they certainly resemble a team unworthy of the playoffs.
We knew there would be an offensive regression without Davante Adams in the picture, but even the team’s harshest critics couldn’t have imagined such an offensive trainwreck from a team that had won 13 games in three straight seasons.
The Packers must take care of business against the Commanders in Week 7, because they face the Buffalo Bills the following week.
The Jaguars’ picture may be finally coming into focus. They’re most likely a competitive loser in 2022, which isn’t a bad thing considering they were the league’s embarrassment a season ago. Offseason spending improved the product, but Jacksonville still has a long way to go before they learn to consistently win close games.
Although the Jaguars’ defensive front can be dominant for stretches, their secondary still leaves a lot to be desired. And their young players continue to make critical mistakes in inopportune moments. Looking at you, Travon Walker.
Jacksonville’s defense allowed points on Indianapolis’ final five drives, including touchdowns on each of the final three.
New Orleans Saints
I’m not used to seeing a Saints defense struggle. Sure, there were a few years with Drew Brees putting up video game numbers where their defense was abysmal, but they’ve been arguably the most consistent defense in the league over the past five seasons.
But with no Marshon Lattimore, the holes showed in the second half against Cincinnati. The toughest part about the Saints over the past three weeks is that their offense has done a 180.
Andy Dalton has played well, and against Cincinnati, with all of New Orleans’ receivers injured, the running game found its footing. But their defense let them down in the end.
Week 7 NFL Power Rankings: Tier 4 | Wait and See
It’s still too early to know what these teams are. There is a group of teams inside this tier that look good one week and awful the next. Some have grossly underperformed relative to expectations, and others are exceeding theirs.
Nobody saw the Atlanta Falcons improving after trading away long-time franchise quarterback Matt Ryan. Maybe they’re not better, and teams just haven’t figured out how to stop Marcus Mariota and the Falcons’ rushing attack.
If things slow down for Atlanta on offense, they don’t have the defensive talent to consistently get stops. But against a depleted 49ers defense and an offense that brought Christmas to Atlanta early with gifts a plenty, they were able to stride away from San Francisco on Sunday.
Three losses and three late-game defensive breakdowns led to the Ravens’ three losses. The Dolphins’ loss was egregious, but Baltimore isn’t a team that ever loses games that way. Well, that’s no longer the case.
Lamar Jackson and the Ravens receivers are not on the same page downfield. Baltimore’s passing attack has long been based on converting on shot plays in the passing attack and controlling games with their run game. However, those downfield shots aren’t hitting this year.
The Ravens have a few nice wins against the Patriots and Bengals, but they must be more consistent if they want a chance to outlast Cincinnati and win the division.
Going down by multiple scores in the second half was the Cleveland Browns’ death blow on Sunday against the Patriots. New England’s defense isn’t as talent-rich as we’re used to seeing it, but Bill Belichick can still put backup quarterbacks in a pretzel.
Forcing the Browns away from the run game and placing the responsibility for their comeback in the right arm of Jacoby Brissett ended up going as poorly as one could expect. And the secondary was back to busting coverages and allowing receivers to run mailbox routes with their hands up, begging for the ball.
It’s been very ugly at times, but the Indianapolis Colts are 3-2-1 and are battling the Titans for first place in the division, as the football gods intended when the season commenced.
Matt Ryan looks about eight degrees of washed, the offensive line is in shambles, and Jonathan Taylor is injured. Nevertheless, Michael Pittman Jr. and Alec Pierce are proving to be quite the dynamic receiving duo. As long as Ryan’s hospital balls continue to fall harmlessly, the Colts could piece together a few more wins. They’ll face their division rivals a week from Sunday.
Los Angeles Rams
The Rams took care of business against the Panthers in the end, but Los Angeles feels like a very erratic team at the moment. Matthew Stafford is playing more like Detroit Stafford than the 2021 Rams Stafford, and LA is still struggling running the football with their running backs.
Nobody seems to want to win the NFC West at the moment. At 3-3, they hold the same record as the San Francisco 49ers, although they don’t currently hold the tiebreaker against them. But they’ll get a chance at revenge coming off their bye week.
Las Vegas Raiders
Las Vegas remaining in the “wait-and-see” tier is probably the most controversial placement on this list. However, they’ve played in five one-score games, and it took them blowing 17 and 20-point leads to be where they are today at 1-4.
The Raiders must figure out how not to lose leads, and the defense must improve under Patrick Graham if they want to win a few games moving forward.
The Dolphins are starting to feel like the Kyle Shanahan teams in San Francisco that couldn’t buy health luck at the quarterback position. When Jimmy Garoppolo had been healthy from 2017-2021, the 49ers won most of their games. When he was off the field, they struggled to remain relevant.
The Miami defense finally showed up this season against Minnesota, but it wasn’t enough to propel the team past the Vikings. Miami gets a bit of a reprieve against Pittsburgh next week, where they’ll get to finally see Tua Tagovailoa back on the field.
Until this team is healthy for a stretch, it’s tough to know exactly where they stand.
New England Patriots
There might not be a QB controversy in New England, but there’s also no guarantee that there won’t be if the Patriots offense keeps playing football as efficiently as they have in the two weeks Bailey Zappe has started for them.
New England didn’t even run the ball effectively against Cleveland, a team that struggles mightily stopping the run. Zappe and the passing attack were efficient and explosive, albeit while being gifted a few busted coverages. If the offense can keep it up, New England can really take its time getting Mac Jones back on the field.
New York Jets
Maybe the Jets are a good football team now that Zach Wilson is back. Their offense seems to have found a bit of a groove in the past two weeks. They’re schematically unique and certainly don’t lack the talent to be impressive.
With the Broncos, Patriots, and Bills upcoming, we will learn more about how real this Jets team might be with a healthy quarterback. The Jets defense was menacing against the Packers on Sunday, but that’s an offense struggling to get out of their own way in 2022.
San Francisco 49ers
The 49ers are probably a pretty good football team, but they’re also one of the most injured teams in the league, and the NFL Power Rankings are a “here and now” entity.
On Sunday, the 49ers were missing their entire starting front four on defense, which is the strongest unit on the team and one of the most dominant units in the league. Without them, Atlanta was able to move the ball consistently, peeling away at San Francisco’s defense with a heavy dose of runs, efficient passing attempts, and third-down conversions.
That’s a two-tier drop for the 3-3 49ers, but they could change their outlook quickly with a win against the Chiefs in Week 7.
On Sunday, the Seahawks’ defense capitalized over a Cardinals offense that is in disarray. On the other side of the ball, QB Geno Smith was efficient and rookie RB Kenneth Walker III was solid in his first start in place of Rashaad Penny. Walker finished the game with 21 carries for 97 yards, including an 11-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter that gave Seattle enough cushion to secure the win.
No one thought that Seattle would be in this position, but six weeks into the regular season, they currently sit in a three-way tie atop the NFC West. A team once projected in the preseason to be in rebuild mode suddenly has their sights on a potential playoff berth.
It’s tough to know what the Titans are yet. They’re 3-2 and have won their last three games, but Tennessee is still in a weird space because they rank well into the 20s in both offensive and defensive efficiency.
But the most concerning thing early in the Titans’ season is their inability to consistently run the football, the pillar on which their offense is built. Tennessee’s running game has improved over the past three weeks, but it is still underwhelming relative to their expectations.
NFL Power Rankings Week 7: Tier 3 | The Maybe Good Teams
Tier 3 has quite a few teams in it after Week 6. A few teams elevated their status, while a few faltered. But things are missing on each roster that keeps them from ascending into the next tier.
It didn’t make sense for this to be the game that got Joe Burrow and Ja’Marr Chase out of their slump, but no Marshon Lattimore proved costly on the duo’s 60-yard touchdown connection.
What makes the Bengals’ offensive performance all the more impressive is that they only had three offensive possessions in the second half. They scored two touchdowns and kicked a field goal on those possessions, and each drive was over 50 yards.
With the Falcons, Browns, and Panthers on the schedule before their bye, Cincinnati could find themselves 6-3 and pacing the AFC North by that point if Baltimore continues to leak leads away.
The Cowboys are a good football team — one that is about to get their franchise quarterback back. After surviving for a quarter against the Eagles, the floodgates opened in the second quarter, and Philadelphia scored 20 straight points against the vaunted Cowboys defense.
Dallas showed more offensive firepower on two second-half drives than they had all season with Cooper Rush under center as the team’s backup, but it wasn’t enough to come all the way back against the Eagles. Philadelphia flipped the switch and score another touchdown to make it a nine-point lead that Dallas couldn’t slash.
Los Angeles Chargers
The Los Angeles Chargers have the most frustrating good offense in the NFL. They have absolutely no speed on the outside to threaten downfield, and their entire passing attack is on the vertical plane, forcing Justin Herbert to be an alien leveraging passes away from trouble where only his tightly covered receiver can catch the ball.
The Chargers’ defense hasn’t been great in 2022, but they had their own version of a bye week against the Denver Broncos on Monday Night Football. Neither team could move the ball on offense in the overtime period, but the Chargers found a way to get the ball in Broncos’ territory after their special teams made the play of the game on a punt, forcing a turnover that led to the game-winning field goal.
The Minnesota Vikings may be the most uninspiring 5-1 team we’ve ever seen. The offense could only muster 11 first downs against a Dolphins defense that came in ranking 29th in defensive DVOA.
Minnesota had 10 three-and-outs against that defense and struggled against a depleted Dolphins roster until Jaylen Waddle fumbled late to give Minnesota the advantage they needed to secure victory.
We may not know the veracity of their greatness until the Weeks 10-12 stretch against Buffalo, Dallas, and New England.
New York Giants
The Giants don’t make sense. They allowed Baltimore seven yards per play on Sunday and could only manage 3.8 yards per play of their own. But they’ll head into Week 7 in Tier 3 of the NFL Power Rankings with a 5-1 record.
New York is not a talent-rich team. But Brian Daboll, Wink Martindale, and Mike Kafka have done an outstanding job of making the Giants a well-coached unit, which is truly the only explanation for their torrent start, aside from having a decent, but not overwhelmingly good rushing attack.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
It might be time to start worrying about the Tampa Bay offense. The Bucs couldn’t run the ball if their season depended on it, and the passing attack looks as flat as it has since Tom Brady first donned a Buccaneers uniform.
Tampa Bay’s offensive line is busted, but with the weapons at their disposal and Brady’s ability to get the ball out in a flash it shouldn’t affect them so negatively.
The Bucs’ defense is still very good, and they’ve never been too worried about having to win a bunch of regular-season games in the Brady era, but losing to a lifeless Steelers team was never part of the plan.
Week 7 NFL Power Rankings: Tier 2 | Almost Surely Good Teams
There are a few teams that could elevate or drop their status depending on their performances, but through the afternoon slate there is not a single team that deserves to be considered in this tier. Every team has weaknesses that could be debilitating.
This shows just how inconsistent NFL teams have been in 2022, no matter the talent each roster possesses.
NFL Power Rankings Week 7: Tier 1 | The Elite Teams
One team between the Bills and Chiefs had to lose. Having two losses doesn’t make them any less elite. It was a battle between juggernauts, and it’s a shame that it had to share a time slot with two other games.
They finally did it! The Bills finished the game against the Chiefs!
Josh Allen is actually hacking. Ravensoft needs to get Richochet on the case because he is cheating. He’s gotta be. When you create a quarterback in Madden, he comes out looking like Josh Allen. He’s 6-foot-5, 245 pounds, with a howitzer connected to his right shoulder and the athleticism to hurdle defensive backs.
The fact that he has improved so drastically from his Wyoming days doesn’t make sense. And because of the guy he beat on Sunday, we can’t even definitively call him the best QB in the NFL.
These were the two best teams in the NFL, and even though it wasn’t a points-fest, it was the cat-and-mouse game we thought we’d get.
Kansas City Chiefs
Steve Spagnuolo is a maniac. His attacking nature both helped and hurt against the Bills’ offensive attack, but overall, he had a positive impact on the game. The Chiefs had to start two rookies at cornerback and somehow figured out a way to allow only 24 points to the Bills.
The Chiefs offense played pretty well overall. The Bills averaged 6.3 yards per play, the Chiefs averaged 6.2. Patrick Mahomes is an alien. His ability to manipulate the pocket is otherworldly, and his ability to deliver accurate passes with just the flick of a wrist from any angle makes him the best in the world.
But his mental mistake late in the fourth quarter sealed the game. And that is what having to face Von Miller can do to even the best.
The Eagles remain the league’s only undefeated team after defeating the Cowboys on Sunday Night Football. After Dallas got a stop on the Eagles’ first offensive drive of the game, it was all over. The Eagles scored on the next four drives before halftime.
And when Dallas looked like they may actually somehow come back in this game, Philadelphia turned it back on, scored another touchdown, and put the game away 26-17. Like they have all season, the Eagles dominated the second quarter and rode the rest of the game to a win.