By Conor Perrett
With another week of the NFL season ticked off the list, our rankings look like an iPod on shuffle with only three teams remaining in their same spot from last week. We had one of the craziest games in the last four years, an upset no one saw coming and an interim head coach who’s now undefeated in his coaching career.
So without further ado, let’s welcome our newcomers to the top spot of the Smashmouthing
Football Power Rankings.
- Kansas City Chiefs (7-2)
Last Week – 3rd
The Chiefs lead the league in offensive EPA per drive with a mark of 1.23. For reference, that would be the highest mark in TruMedia’s database since the 2011 New Orleans Saints. The difference in EPA per drive between the Chiefs and the No. 2 team, the Dolphins, is the same as the difference between Miami and the No. 15 team.
Despite losing Tyreek Hill this off-season, Kansas City continue to light up the league as Patrick Mahomes and Andy Reid adapt to their new cast. Kadarius Toney is the newest man to enter that bunch and his emergence on Sunday was promising. The 2021 first-round pick caught four passes for 57 yards and a touchdown, while adding two carries for 33 yards. He looks to be an exciting weapon that they happily took off the hands of the Giants.
Up next: at Los Angeles Chargers, Monday 1:20 a.m. GMT
- Philadelphia Eagles (8-1)
Last Week – 1st
Philadelphia’s run finally ended leaving us without an undefeated team in the league now. The turnover battle finally caught up to them on Monday Night, as crucial mistakes led to the upset loss versus the Commanders. It marked the first time this season the Eagles had trailed in the second half at any point and two costly late fumbles in the fourth quarter spoiled any chances of a comeback win.
While it’s easy to brush over uncharacteristic mistakes, this defence has really struggled to stop the run over the last two weeks. Nose tackle Jordan Davis has missed both games after being placed on IR and Philly has now given up 320 rushing yards in that time. This run defence got brushed over last week and it’s clear now it’s a problem. Today, the Eagles signed former Charger’s DT Linval Joseph to a one-year deal in a bid to address this issue.
Up next: at Indianapolis, Sunday 6 p.m. GMT
- Miami Dolphins (7-3)
Last Week – 7th
The Dolphins have been on a roller-coaster across these power rankings, flying up and down the board. On our first edition they started off 2nd but fell as low as 20th at one point during Tua’s concussion injury. Now they have their QB back and boy are they back to being electric. Over the last three weeks Miami have averaged 35 points per game and most recently dropped 39 points on the Browns, who we last saw shutdown the Bengals.
The run game looks dominant, the pass game looks unstoppable, they just need to fix up that defence and we might have a new Super Bowl contender on our hands.
Up next: Bye
- Minnesota Vikings (7-2)
Last Week – 10th
Before we get into my weekly Vikings rant, that Justin Jefferson catch might be one of the best I’ve ever seen. It alone could earn that title but it was ridiculous when you account for the down and distance along with the stakes.
As for whether the Vikings are actually one of the league’s four best teams, that’s up for debate. Their play up to date didn’t warrant having the tied best record in the league, but can they be taken seriously now that they beat what many thought to be the best team in football in their own backyard? I’m still skeptical but Sunday’s late rally did them many favours. Maybe they are for real?
Up next: vs. Dallas, Sunday 9:25 p.m. GMT
- Buffalo Bills (6-3)
Last Week – 2nd
The NFL season is a slog, and the Bills aren’t the first team to hit a mid-season bump after looking like the best team early on. There’s plenty of reason to believe they can get to that level again. They still rank No. 1 in overall DVOA, with a 1st and 5th defensive and offensive DVOA rankings respectively. But the road ahead won’t be easy.
For starters the real problem right now is they sit third in their AFC East division. With a 0-2 record in the division, that could come back to haunt them, if they have to win three road games to make it to a Super Bowl. If anyone can do it then Josh Allen would be a good choice, but his 13 turnovers on the year would worry you.
Up next: vs. Cleveland, Sunday 6 p.m. GMT
- Baltimore Ravens (6-3)
Last Week – 5th
The bye week is in place to get teams healthy and so it did with Mark Andrews likely to return this Sunday. The doors have opened for Baltimore to fight for the AFC No. 1 seed now.
Up next: vs. Carolina, Sunday 6 p.m. GMT
- San Francisco 49ers (5-4)
Last Week – 6th
The 49ers still look good and one of my favourites out of the NFC, but Kyle Shanahan does do some weird stuff that puts questions in your mind. First, remember that trade they did for Christian McCaffery where they sent an entire draft class to earn his rights. Well he started off amazingly but this past Sunday he got out-carried by Elijah Mitchell. Next, San Fran decided to kick a field goal from the two-yard line with one minute remaining to extend the Niners lead to six points. What was that about?
Now it meant the Chargers had to score a touchdown to win, but if he was successful from the two, it would have ended the game and not allow Justin Herbert to get a chance to spoil the party. It was only one game and San Francisco won in the end, so we won’t overreact but late game management has been Shanahan’s Achilles heel in the past.
Up next: at Arizona, Tuesday 1:15 a.m. GMT
- Dallas Cowboys (6-3)
Last Week – 4th
Dallas blew a 14-point fourth-quarter lead in their loss at Lambeau Field, after their defence fell apart. But Dak Prescott’s turnovers can’t keep happening if the Cowboys are going to be a serious threat in the playoffs. Despite throwing for three touchdowns, Dak did not have a good game as he finished this week ranked 31st in EPA per dropback.
Sunday was a chance to get a game behind the Eagles and have fate back in their hands. Now they’re coming off an ugly defeat and have to play Minnesota this week, who are feeling a sense of high like no other team after the way they upset the Bills in Buffalo.
Up next: at Minnesota, Sunday 9:25 p.m. GMT
- Cincinnati Bengals (5-4)
Last Week – 9th
The bye week for Cincinnati didn’t make the look of their remaining schedule any easier, but they have a nice warm up fight against Pittsburgh this week to get ready for the seven difficult weeks after that.
Up next: at Pittsburgh, Sunday 9:25 p.m. GMT
- Seattle Seahawks (6-4)
Last Week – 8th
Things didn’t go great for the Seahawks in Germany, but overall this team is in a rebuilding year, yet are still 6-4 with rookies all over the place. Seattle are leading the league in offensive and defensive snaps played by first-year players, according to TruMedia.
The Seahawks rookie class includes a pair of starting tackles in Charles Cross and Abraham Lucas, an ascending star corner-back, who’s tied first for interceptions in the league, Tariq Woolen and a dynamic home hitter running-back in Kenneth Walker.
Up next: Bye
- New York Jets (6-3)
Last Week – 11th
Defensive star Quinnen Williams has hit the quarterback on 6.5% of his pass-rush snaps this year. To put that into context Aaron Donald, who needs no explaining, has a single season high mark of 5.1%. The Jets have themselves a player on their hands and their defence is among the elite in the NFL this season.
Up next: at New England, Sunday 6 p.m. GMT.
- Tennessee Titans (6-3)
Last Week – 12th
Barring a collapse, Tennessee looks to be hosting a play-off game come January. This defence has looked strong in the last few weeks but we will get to see who they really are in their next three-game stretch. First they travel to Green Bay for Thursday Night Football, and then follow that up with the Bengals and Eagles. If the Titans want to be serious in the playoffs then they can prove it here, but if not then the door might open slightly ajar for Jacksonville or Indianapolis.
Up next: at Green Bay, Friday 1:15 a.m. GMT
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers (5-5)
Last Week – 16th
Tampa’s running game finally came into fruition when rookie Rachaad White ran for 105 yards on 22 carries in Munich. It’s the first time as a team they have topped 100 rushing yards since Week 1, as Tom Brady got some much deserved help.
The defence is looking better, ranking 7th in defensive DVOA as they take control of their NFC South division. The ball is in their court now as they hold a one game lead over Atlanta and only have to face two teams in their remaining seven games that rank higher than 18th in these Power Rankings.
Up next: Bye
- New England Patriots (5-4)
Last Week – 13th
The Patriots are the only team with a winning record that ranks in the bottom 10 of the league in offensive DVOA. It speaks to how well their defence have played this year, but also to the limitations they face with the ball in their hands. Their run game is strong but teams have caught onto that and they are packing the box to stop it.
This theoretically should open up the passing game but right now, Mac Jones ranks 34th out of 35 qualifying quarterbacks in EPA per dropback. Whether the blame is to fall on Jones, his receivers, or Matt Patricia, whose offensive play calling is up for debate. One way or another things will have to change for a deep season for Pat’s run.
Up next: vs. New York Jets, Sunday 6 p.m. GMT
- New York Giants (7-2)
Last Week – 14th
Yes, the Giants have the third best record in the league, yet are 15th in these power rankings. While their play on the field creates their record, it also speaks to how good they are and you could also say they have had a bit of fortune.
In DVOA they rank 20th in overall, split between 15th on offence and 24th on defence. They’re 7-1 in one-score games, which says a lot about their mentality but is probably unsustainable and masks their overall quality. The Giants are probably going to be a playoff team, which would be an awesome accomplishment for Brian Daboll in his first year on the job. They just aren’t yet among the league’s best yet.
Up next: vs. Detroit, Sunday 6 p.m. GMT
- Washington Commanders (5-5)
Last Week – 22nd
Credit to the Commanders for fully committing to their run-heavy game plan in the first half of their 32-21 win over the Eagles. It hadn’t been a strength of theirs to date, but they played on the Eagles weakness and it worked out. They ended up holding the ball for 40:24, the second most lopsided time of possession in a game this season.
There was no bigger way for Washington to cement this kind of win, as they get back to .500 on the season and can push on for the playoffs.
Up next: at Houston, Sunday 6 p.m. GMT
- Los Angeles Chargers (5-4)
Last Week – 15th
The Chargers can look to injuries for their failure this season so far, but they have the second easiest schedule in the league, per Football Outsiders. They’ve been poor offensively and defensively throughout the season and Sunday’s game against the Niners might have looked close, but should have been finished way before the last drive.
Before the season this Kansas City matchup looked really tasty. Let’s hope they can get Keenan Allen and Mike Williams back so we can see an exciting shootout.
Up next: vs. Kansas City, Monday 1:20 a.m. GMT
- Green Bay Packers (4-6)
Last Week – 26th
Christian Watson was a riser up the draft boards earlier in the year with his performances in the Senior Bowl and draft combine. He found himself land on the Packers and was instantly expected to make an impact in the Davante Adams-less wide-receiver room.
Things didn’t start off great when he dropped a touchdown pass on his first NFL target and entered Sunday with only 88 receiving yards. But against the Cowboys he put his name on the scene with his three touchdown performance. With four catches for 107 yards and those touchdowns, it led the Packers back to a comeback win over the Cowboys and former coach Mike McCarthy.
The Packers offence in that fourth quarter was different to anything we had seen all season, but is it just an anomaly?
Up next: vs. Tennessee, Friday 1:15 a.m. GMT
- Arizona Cardinals (4-6)
Last Week – 23rd
Kyler Murray missed the game on Sunday due to a hamstring injury, as Colt McCoy took his place and excelled. He went 26 of 37 for 238 yards and a touchdown, as McCoy looked better than, dare I say, Murray. Colt also got rid of the ball quicker than Murray has all season, with a 2.08 second average time to throw, which caused the Rams all kinds of problems getting to him. Murray is day-to-day according to Kliff Kingsbury at the moment, but against another top defence this week, there is little reason why Colt can’t do it again.
Up next: vs. San Francisco, Tuesday 1:15 a.m. GMT
- Jacksonville Jaguars (3-7)
Last Week – 21st
The Jaguars opened their game against the Chefs this week with a successful onside kick! Sadly it went downhill from there. There’s no shame losing to Kansas City but this team has been playing better than their record suggests. Their first round picks Devin Lloyd and Travon Walker are looking solid, as their offence is coming together with Christian Kirk and Travis Etienne. Trevor Lawrence should continue to improve as the Jags add more talent around him, with a good foundation in place for 2023 and onwards.
Up next: Bye
- Cleveland Browns (3-6)
Last Week – 17th
That was not the kind of performance we were expecting out of the Browns this week. Granted they have been poor this season, but before their bye week we saw them put on an amazing performance both on offence and defence during a prime time game against the Bengals. It looked like their 31st ranked DVOA defence was about to turn things around and then they took a big defeat to the Dolphins. A playoff appearance continues to look out of reach, even when they get Desahun Watson back in two and a half weeks time.
Up next: at Buffalo, Sunday 1 p.m. GMT
- Detroit Lions (3-6)
Last Week – 27th
Woo-ah!!! The Detroit Lions won back-to-back games against divisional opponents for the first time in what feels like an eternity. This team showed exactly what Dan Campbell wants out of his team, with a 14-point fourth quarter comeback.
Justin Fields continued to dominate with his legs until his old familiar Ohio State teammate, Jeff Okudah scored a pick-six. They proceeded to stop Fields again with two sacks to get the ball back on downs, as this team is starting to finish games they control. Now can Detroit continue this run and put an end to the surprising Giants on the road this week? I am optimistic they can.
Up next: at New York Giants, Sunday 6 p.m. GMT
- Chicago Bears (3-7)
Last Week – 24th
The Bears went from 30th in offensive DVOA over the first six weeks of the season to 5th in offensive DVOA over the last four weeks. Sunday against Detroit was no different, with the offence catering to Justin Fields’ legs more as he looks like one of the league’s best scramblers.
They were up two scores but when Detroit came back and forced the Bears into a potential game winning drive, Chicago fell back into their bad habits of the first six weeks. With two minutes on the clock, three timeouts remaining and only needing 50 yards to get inside field goal range, the ball was put into Field’s arm instead of using his amazing legs. It led to exactly what we had been seeing at the start of the season with no one open and allowing the pass-rush to get in his face. Not surprisingly, it ended with a gut-wrenching home defeat.
Up next: at Atlanta, Sunday 6 p.m. GMT
- Denver Broncos (3-6)
Last Week – 20th
Denver spent way too much to acquire Russell Wilson for the offence to still be this bad. The bye week is meant to be a time where teams review how things are going and change the things that aren’t working. Well Denver looked the same as they have every week and that’s not a good thing. There’s going to be a lot of pressure to make significant changes at the end of the season to ensure their bet on Wilson hits, which could mean first-year head coach Nathaniel Hackett being given the old heave-ho if things don’t improve dramatically.
Up next: vs. Las Vegas, Sunday 9:05 p.m. GMT
- Los Angeles Rams (3-6)
Last Week – 19th
All is lost for the Rams this season. They were already a long shot to make the playoffs going into Week 10, and their odds only worsened with a loss to the Cardinals. Now they’re expected to miss their best offensive player Cooper Kupp for an extended period of time, possibly four weeks. Maybe a few players including Aaron Donald in Los Angeles might be wishing they had retired after that Super Bowl win last February.
Up next: at New Orleans, Sunday 6 p.m. GMT
- Atlanta Falcons (4-6)
Last Week – 18th
The season is still far from over but that loss last Thursday Night to the Panthers was ugly. Marcus Mariota is a big part of their successful rushing attack which ranks 5th in EPA per rush, but he’s not getting the ball out well and that’s not good when their best player is a pass catcher.
With Desmond Ridder waiting in the wings, his time may come sooner rather than later. It’s important to enter an off-season with a clear idea of what your team is and understanding if Ridder has a place in this league is a big question they will need to know. If Ridder is not the answer, Atlanta may think of upgrading at that position.
Up next: vs. Chicago, Sunday 6 p.m. GMT
- Pittsburgh Steelers (3-6)
Last Week – 29th
Pittsburgh came out of their bye week last Sunday with a clear idea in mind of how they were going to beat the Saints. That idea was running the ball and boy were they successful, running it for 217 yards in that win. Just two months on from tearing his pectoral muscle, T.J. Watt returned to the field with the Steelers now looking on the rise. His presence allowed a season low 10 points against the Saints, and if their defensive performances can stay consistent, it will only make things easier on the other side of the ball for rookie quarterback: Kenny Pickett.
Up next: vs. Cincinnati, Sunday 9:25 p.m. GMT
- Carolina Panthers (3-7)
Last Week – 30th
The Panthers were a laughing stock at the beginning of the season, but their young defensive players are starting to look like stars out there. Derrick Brown is looking like the destructive nose tackle we saw from him in Auburn and Jaycee Horn currently leads all corner-back with over 200-plus snaps played in passer rating, with 23.1 yards allowed, according to PFF. Along with edge rusher Brian Burns and safety Jeremy Chinn, Carolina has the makings for a top defence. They just need to hire the right head coach for the job.
Up next: at Baltimore, Sunday 6 p.m. GMT
- Indianapolis Colts (4-5-1)
Last Week – 32nd
Almost as stunning as Justin Jefferson’s catch this week was Jeff Saturday winning at his first time of asking on the sideline. Okay maybe a bit of a stretch, but Indy had been a mess this season before Sunday.
Credit to Saturday and his gameplan, as this was the first time all season the Colts had jumped out to a double-digit lead and the first time since Christmas, they were leading at halftime. It won’t get any easier as Indy faces top of the NFC Philadelphia this week, but there’s still enough time to cement a culture change inside this organisation.
Up next: vs. Philadelphia, Sunday 6 p.m. GMT
- New Orleans Saints (3-6)
Last Week – 25th
Andy Dalton hasn’t been the main cause to New Orleans problems so far, but he does add limitations to this offence. With the run game not working out and Dalton struggling at times, why not throw Jameis Winston out there? There may be low times with Winston at the helm but at least he will have upside with that. In a way, this team has already hit rock bottom and with nothing to lose in terms of draft picks, they might as well look at the upside Winston offers.
Up next: vs. Los Angeles Rams, Sunday 6 p.m. GMT
- Las Vegas Raiders (2-7)
Last Week – 28th
The Raiders season really is not going to plan and Derek Carr’s emotional post-game press conference made clear how much this season has already bottomed out. Josh McDaniels just got out-coached by a front-office personnel and they rejected the fifth-year option of Josh Jacobs before the start of the season, meaning it’s going to cost them more to keep him or they lose him entirely.
The chances of playoffs ended a while ago for Vegas and now they have to make sure the culture doesn’t come crashing down, just like how every other Patriot head coach not named Bill Belichick has gone.
Up next: at Denver, Sunday 9:05 p.m. GMT
- Houston Texans (1-7-1)
Last Week – 31st
I doubt there are many loud Houston sports fans these days in Ireland and the UK with the worst record in the NFL and NBA. They might be enjoying touch days at the moment, but It looks like a talented draft to have the top draft pick.
Up next: vs. Washington, Sunday 6 p.m. GMT