By Conor Perrett 

As we pass the trade deadline and approach mid-season, the NFL rankings roller coaster continues. This week, Geno Smith of the Seahawks cracks the top 10, as a few new teams emerge as potential contenders. 

Check out who else rises and falls heading into Week 9 of the NFL season!!!

  1. Buffalo Bills (6-1)

Last Week – 1st

The Bills had another easy affair against Green Bay this week, but despite being the best team in the league, we will still nit pick on Josh Allen’s second-half performance. Allen threw a pair of lazy interceptions that looked questionable against the Packers, but the damage was already done with a 24-7 half time lead.

No one is getting close to the Bills at the moment. They are too dominant on defence and offence with their goal for the rest of the regular season to just stay healthy. They won’t face a meaningful game until the postseason. 

Up next: at New York Jets, Sunday 6 p.m. GMT

  1. Philadelphia Eagles (7-0)

Last Week – 3rd

Philly came back from their bye and AJ Brown immediately scored a hat-trick of touchdowns in the first half, with this team firing on all cylinders. General manager Howie Roesman is also pulling the strings by acquiring OLB Robert Quinn before the trade deadline. The best in the NFC just got better. 

Jalen Hurts is currently playing like a top-5 quarterback. Brown and the rest of the supporting cast is among the best in the league, all while their defence is also second in defensive DVOA. There’s not a thing the team is currently bad or even average at, as it feels the NFC conference and first place seed is theirs to lose.

Up next: at Houston, Friday, 00:15 a.m. GMT

  1. Kansas City Chiefs (5-2)

Last Week – 2nd

Kansas didn’t play this week, but they did get better by acquiring second-year wide receiver Kadarius Toney. The electric receiver will offer a vertical threat over the top, somewhat similar to a certain Tyreek Hill, who they parted ways with before the season.

Up next: vs. Tennessee, Monday 1:20 a.m. GMT

  1. Dallas Cowboys (6-2)

Last Week – 5th

If the Cowboys dominant defence didn’t scare you enough, then Tony Pollard’s 131 rushing yards, three touchdowns and 9.4 yards per carry performance should add to that. Much like the top-3 teams on this list, Dallas has started to show some solid offensive performances as of late. They run the ball great with the duo of Pollard and Zeke, and that’s a good recipe for winning, when they possess Micah Parsons on the other side of the ball as well. 

All that they need now is to be consistent with their passing game and threaten teams downfield more to unlock contender status.

Up next: Bye week

  1. Baltimore Ravens (5-2)

Last Week – 6th

Last Thursday night was a big win for the Ravens against the Bucs as Baltimore finally put together a fourth quarter performance that resembles the ability of this team. 

So far the Ravens rank 25th in run defence DVOA and have struggled defending the middle of the field up to date. It’s one of the main reasons why Baltimore paid a heavy price for off-ball linebacker Roquan Smith. Smith is another game changer that has been added to this team, with him leading the league in tackles. Having an impact straight away mid-season will be a difficult task, but over time there will be no doubt it’s a great piece to add in the middle of the field.

Up next: at New Orleans, Tuesday 1:15 a.m. GMT

  1. San Francisco 49ers (4-4)

Last Week – 10th

Christian McCaffery presented himself to the people on the West Coast with a passing, receiving, and rushing touchdown in the 49ers’ 31-14 win over the Rams. He played more than 80% of snaps and led the team in target share as well. 

He is another position-less player with elite yards after the catch ability that Kyle Shanahan wanted another of. It takes even less pressure off Jimmy Garoppolo to throw the ball downfield, while adding another element of surprise with gadget plays.

Up next: Bye week

  1. Miami Dolphins (5-3)

Last Week – 9th

Through eight games, Tyreek Hill is on pace for 2,042 receiving yards, which would top Calvin Johnson’s single-season record of 1,964 in 2012. He tore apart a Lion’s secondary this week so badly that they fired their Defensive Backs Coach the day after the game. No other offence in the league has the explosive weapons that Miami have in their arsenal and the addition of Bradley Chubb on the trade deadline, will only strengthen the weakest spot of their defence. 

Up next: at Chicago, Sunday 6 p.m. GMT

  1. Seattle Seahawks (5-3)

Last Week – 15th

By DVOA, no defence in the league has improved more since the first four weeks of the season than Seattle. After Week 4, the Seahawks ranked 31st in defensive DVOA. In the four weeks since, they’ve performed as the No. 2 DVOA defence in the league. 

And then on the offence, Geno Smith is No. 1 in the league in completion percentage, No. 7 in yards per attempt, No. 8 in EPA per dropback and undoubtedly the best story in the NFL so far this season.

Up next: at Arizona, Sunday 9:05 p.m. GMT

  1. Minnesota Vikings (6-1)

Last Week – 8th

Za’Darius Smith told the media that he hates “that people still are not talking about us” after the Vikings’ Week 8 win over the Cardinals. Well the reason for that is because they are a bang average team that has great luck at winning 50/50 games. I don’t care about what a record says about a team, it’s about how you look on the field and Minnesota has been scraping by, beating below average teams by one score all year. 

Kirk Cousins statistically has the lowest EPA drop back on downs with more than 7 yards to go on and Vikings defence isn’t anything special. So instead of asking for more hype around your team next time Smith, understand you’re getting enough of that already with a record that is far better than deserved.

Up next: at Washington, Sunday 6 p.m. GMT

  1. Cincinnati Bengals (4-4)

Last Week – 4th

Cincinnati has struggled as of late in Cleveland so it didn’t come as the biggest of surprises when they lost against the Browns this past Monday night. What was a surprise was in the manner that it happened, with the Browns dominating both sides of the ball all night.

The big concern for the Bengals remains their offensive line. Cincinnati is talented enough to make another deep playoff run, but with an 0-3 division record, they will likely need to rely on squeezing in as a wild-card team in a congested conference now. 

Up next: vs. Carolina, Sunday 6 p.m. GMT

  1. Tennessee Titans (5-2)

Last Week – 12th

Rookie Malik Willis threw just ten passes and completed six of them for 55 yards in his first career start on Sunday, but the Titans still managed to pull out the win. He can thank Derrick Henry for that. Willis told the media that Henry said “they can’t stop me” at one point during the game, and he wasn’t wrong. Henry rushed for 219 yards and two touchdowns on 32 carries against the Texans, tying O.J. Simpson and Adrian Peterson for the most 200-yard games in NFL history.

It’s important that starter Ryan Tannehill gets healthy so the Titans don’t have to be so one-dimensional offensively, but it’s also reassuring for Tennessee to know that Henry can still lead this team when he has to do so.

Up next: at Kansas City, Monday 1:20 a.m. GMT

  1. New York Giants (6-2)

Last Week – 7th

The Giants have entered the fourth quarter with a lead just once this season. Relying on fourth-quarter magic to secure wins finally caught up to them against the Seahawks, when they were outscored 14-3 in the final 15 minutes. This team is still exceeding expectations and with a bye week on the horizon it gives them time to get healthy and work on coming out the blocks better to start games.

Up next: Bye week

  1. Los Angeles Chargers (4-3)

Last Week – 16th

No team needed the bye more than the Chargers with all the injuries and their underwhelming play so far. Herbert has the lowest average depth of target on early downs and that’s resulted in the 25th ranked success rate on first and second down. 

It seems criminal to not make the most of Herbert’s arm strength and if they come out of the bye looking the same on offence and incapable of stopping the run as they were the previous few weeks, it will be time to seriously doubt whether this is the right coaching staff. 

Up next: at Atlanta, Sunday 6 p.m. GMT

  1. New England Patriots (4-4)

Last Week – 18th 

The Patriots secured a much needed win over the Jets this week, but the offence remained hamstrung by poor quarterback play from Mac Jones. Currently we don’t know what kind of New England side we get come game time, with how inconsistent they have been. On one hand the defence could shut-out anybody and the next they will be getting torn apart by the Bears. 

All we know is the winning formula for New England right now is to force turnovers on defence and find success running the football with Rhamondre Stevenson and Damien Harris.

Up next: vs. Indianapolis, Sunday 6 p.m. GMT

  1. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-5)

Last Week – 17th

The state of the league’s teams in the middle is dire this season. The lifeless Bucs lost this week, yet moved up two spots because of the teams around them. It’s not right but that’s how it currently is, as who would you make a case for ahead of them?

The Packers and Rams fall under the same boat of the Bucs with awful play as of late, but talent sitting on the roster. Then you have the Jets, Giants and Falcons who you feel can drop near the bottom at any moment. If teams in this area could just string a couple of good performances together then they could jump into the top-ten in no time, but it seems this year more than ever that that task is too difficult for some.

Up next: vs. Los Angeles Rams , Sunday 9:25 p.m. GMT

  1. New York Jets (5-3)

Last Week – 11th 

Only Kenny Pickett, Davis Mills, and Baker Mayfield have a lower EPA per dropback than Zach Wilson through eight weeks. Wilson let the Jets down this week with two horrible interceptions that will only question people around the organisation about him. 

It’s not like New York has not put weapons around him as well. Yet two wide receivers this season have spoken out about their unhappiness among the team in a confusing situation.  The most recent being a second round pick from last year, Elijah Moore saying after the game “I couldn’t even tell you. I don’t get the ball.” When asked about his chemistry with Zach Wilson.

Up next: vs. Buffalo, Sunday 6 p.m. GMT

  1. Los Angeles Rams (3-4)

Last Week – 13th

Despite having an extra week to prepare, Sean McVay still can’t seem to beat Kyle Shannahan in the regular season. What’s maybe most surprising is Los Angeles stayed quiet during the run up to the trade deadline.

The offensive line is injury-plagued and struggling in pass protection, while the receiving corps lacks top-end speed. It feels if things were going to get better it would have already happened by now, yet this team still finds itself in an offensive slump and won’t be able to add any help for the rest of the season now. Unless there is a return of a certain OBJ?

Up next: at Tampa Bay, Sunday 9:25 p.m. GMT

  1. Green Bay Packers (3-5)

Last Week – 19th

Instead of repeating myself, it feels like you could copy and paste exactly what I mentioned about the Rams and it would apply to the Packers. Except the Packers have been even worse on defence and special teams.

Up next: at Detroit, Sunday 6 p.m. GMT

  1. Cleveland Browns (3-5)

Last Week – 23rd

The Browns performance on Monday Night was their best of the season in a crucial game that had big repercussions for the fate of their season. Jacoby Brissett had the best game of his career by EPA per dropback, while Cleveland’s defence finally showed up this year when they shut-down the Bengals offence for the majority of the game.

After snapping their losing streak, they now head into a bye week before taking on a tricky run of Miami, Buffalo and Tampa to determine how playoff relevant they are before Deshaun Watson’s Week 13 return.

Up next: Bye week

  1. Atlanta Falcons (4-4)

Last Week – 21st

Atlanta runs the ball at the second-highest rate in the NFL and calls play-action on a league-leading 48% of its drop-backs. It’s helped them get to first-place in the NFC South and ranks them sixth in offensive EPA per drive.

But without their standout corner-back A.J. Terrell, they have struggled on defence over the last two weeks and still remain one of the worst units in the league.

Up next: vs. Los Angeles Chargers, Sunday 6 p.m. GMT

  1. Arizona Cardinals (3-5)

Last Week – 20th

Just when the Cardinals offence had started clicking again with the return of Deandre Hopkins, they now have a problem on their hands with the defence. Arizona ranks 32nd in defensive success rate and 31st in points allowed, which is not ideal at all. The secondary is giving up too many explosive plays downfield and the front seven is one of the league’s most timid units against the run. 

Up next: vs. Seattle, Sunday 9:05 p.m. GMT

  1. New Orleans Saints (3-5)

Last Week – 25th

In a revenge game against his old team, Dennis Allen took his defence to another level when they shut out the Las Vegas Raiders. Going into the game Vegas actually ranked second in offensive EPA per drive, but the Saints put together a game plan like no other to stop them.

Filling the box to stop the recent terror of Josh Jacobs was their first job and once that was done, their defence played great to stop Derek Carr having any sort of connection with Devante Adams on the day.

Up next: vs. Baltimore, Tuesday 1:15 a.m. GMT

  1. Denver Broncos (3-5)

Last Week – 26th

By DVOA, no team’s offence and defence are separated in quality more than the Broncos. They rank No. 1 in defensive DVOA and No. 27 on offence. But Denver’s offence is slowly starting to look as expected, when Russell Wilson hit a 47-yard ball down the right sideline to connect with KJ Hamler in their comeback win against the Jags in London. Hopefully now Wilson can enjoy a sleep on the flight home, instead of more high knees.

Up next: Bye week

  1. Washington Commanders (4-4)

Last Week – 27th

Taylor Heinicke playing as well as he did against the Colts is exactly why the Commanders probably shouldn’t have never traded for Carson Wentz this off-season. Neither quarterback will be their long-term answer at the position, but Heinicke is winning and didn’t cost Washington multiple draft picks and $28 million in cap space. What Washington decides to do at the most important position is unknown, but one thing for sure is Terry McLaurin should be the guy that person is throwing to after his insane contested grab over All-Pro Stephon Gilmore to set up the winning PAT.

Up next: vs. Minnesota, Sunday 6 p.m. GMT

  1. Las Vegas Raiders (2-5)

Last Week – 14th

The Raiders have been a team I have backed all season despite their poor record. I understood that if just a few two-point conversions went their way, things would look a lot different, but their 24-0 shot-out loss was the final straw. They didn’t run an offensive play in Saints territory until after the two-minute warning in the fourth quarter, as Josh McDaniels looked anything but an offensive genius on Sunday.

Up next: at Jacksonville, Sunday 6 p.m. GMT

  1. Jacksonville Jaguars (2-6)

Last Week – 22nd

The Jaguars have lost five straight games, and there’s no way to sugarcoat it but Trevor Lawrence has been a big reason why. Since Week 4, the rates at which he turns the ball over, takes sacks, and throws inaccurate passes are all among the highest in the league. Lawrence has continued to make critical mistakes, as his interception from the 1-yard line this week in London was the most recent.

Up next: vs. Las Vegas, Sunday 6 p.m. GMT

  1. Indianapolis Colts (3-4-1)

Last Week – 24th

The Colts made a change at quarterback but everything about the offence still felt similar. Indy ran the ball at a higher rate than it has done all season in Sam Ehlinger’s first game as the starter, but they still didn’t find the end zone until the fourth quarter. If Micheal Pittman could have hauled in Ehlinger’s perfect pass after the Commanders took their one-point lead then we could have been looking at a different story, but in the meantime we’ll have to let Indy’s bold quarterback decision play its course.

Up next: at New England, Sunday 1 p.m. GMT

  1. Carolina Panthers (2-6)

Last Week – 30th

There’s no other way to put it but the Panthers should have won this past Sunday. PJ Walker threw one of the best passes of the year to D.J. Moore to tie the game, but an unnecessary flag caused the PAT to be longer than it needed to be and kicker Eddy Pineiro missed. On a good note though, under Steve Wilks Carolina ranks 15th in overall DVOA. A whole two times better as they were 31st in that same category under Matt Rhule.

Up next: at Cincinnati, Sunday 1 p.m. GMT

  1. Chicago Bears (3-5)

Last Week – 28th

It’s taken some time but Justin Fields and this offence have started to show significant improvement during the last five week stretch.The Chicago rushing attack has thrived with more designed quarterback runs for Fields, and he’s improved his EPA per dropback from 28th in weeks 1-4 to 13th in weeks 5-8. 

The Bears current rebuild process looks better than ever now with over $100 million cap space next season, along with nine draft picks. All while potentially having their franchise quarterback in place.

Up next: vs. Miami, Sunday 6 p.m. GMT

  1. Pittsburgh Steelers (2-6)

Last Week – 29th

The days of when the Steelers had Big Ben and a dominant run game are long gone with them now 32nd in offensive EPA per drive and 30th in total points. They might have some pieces in place if their offensive line can just improve, but the concern of Najee Harris’s play in his meant to be breakout season is worrying. With just a solo touchdown and an average of 3.3 yards per carry on the season, Harris looks a shadow on himself as Mike Tomlin tries turning this ship around.

Up next: Bye week

  1. Detroit Lions (1-6)

Last Week – 31st

It’s pretty simple what is wrong with the Lions this season. Their offence is decent, but inconsistent and their defence is just outright terrible. It feels that if this team could just have an average defence they would have a winning record. In the games that this defence has done better than terrible and held teams to under 30 points, the offence has gone missing and can’t string a drive together.

For the Lions to win it feels they have to have a perfect day on offence and win in shootout style. But still in a rebuilding process, that’s unlikely to happen and the reason why this team is 1-6 on the season.

Up next: vs. Green Bay, Sunday 6 p.m. GMT

  1. Houston Texans (1-5-1)

Last Week – 32nd

Things can’t get much worse for the Texans, as they rank 31st on offence in total yards per game and 30th defensively in yards allowed per play. Their rookies, Dameon Pierce on offence and Derek Stingley on defence look like foundation pillars for this team. But that’s about all that’s going right over in Houston.

Up next: vs. Philadelphia, Friday 0:15 a.m. GMT

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