Updated: Nov. 15
San Francisco 49ers (1-8) - Previously: 32.
I almost ranked the 49ers ahead of the Browns, but Cleveland has been competitive in more games this season. Plus, we all need to be reminded of the ugly transformation Colin Kaepernick has endured throughout his tragic career...
Cleveland Browns (0-10) - Previously: 31.
Hue Jackson had a performance for the ages on Thursday night. He opened the game by calling a timeout on the first play from scrimmage because of 12 men on the field and then benched Cody Kessler for no explicable reason. It's as if he were... well... you know... I think you know what it's time for...
The Adventures of Derek Anderson's Magic Flask!
Hue Jackson: I am so upset about the election, but I really need to focus on this game.
Anyway, let's do an update for Terrelle Pryor, who, according to Charles Woodson, will accumulate 1,800 receiving yards this year:
Terrelle Pryor's Race for 1,800:
Current Receiving Yards: 627
Currently on Pace for: 1,003
Yards Per Game Needed for 1,800: 195.5
If Hue Jackson keeps drinking, Pryor may not have a chance...
Jacksonville Jaguars (2-7) - Previously: 30.
Two weeks in a row now, the Jaguars have self-destructed with dumb turnovers, and all their opponents had to do was utilize the Bobby Boucher offense and watch Jacksonville lose on its own. Hmm... so, these results are telling me the Jaguars have gotten even worse after firing their great offensive coordinator? Oh wow, who could've seen that one coming? I'm guessing other teams won't be utilizing the strategy of firing the best coach on their staff anytime soon.
New York Jets (3-7) - Previously: 29.
The 2017 NFL Draft class is drying up with teams souring on Deshaun Watson and Brad Kaaya. This means that the Jets will have to wait until the following April to grab a signal-caller, which isn't the worst thing because the 2018 NFL Draft class is loaded at quarterback. Check out my updated 2018 NFL Mock Draft for more.
So, what do the Jets do at quarterback while they're waiting? I think they're definitely in play for Tony Romo. I think New York is a very realistic destination for Romo, though Denver could be the favorite if John Elway doesn't think Paxton Lynch is ready.
Chicago Bears (2-7) - Previously: 26.
I called the Bears underrated last week, citing their improved defense with Pernell McPhee back on the field, as well as Jordan Howard's emergence as a potent weapon. I foolishly forgot one factor: Jay Cutler is an abomination from Football Hell. Cutler fooled me with an impressive performance against the Vikings on a Monday night prior to the bye, but he won't trick me next time. Never again.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-5) - Previously: 28.
The Buccaneers finally won a home game, and all it took was Jay Cutler self-destructing. It wasn't just anti-Cutler though, as Tampa's offense showed signs of life following a shaky start. I thought this was significant, as the Bears have a pretty solid defense. Buccaneer fans will be hoping they see the same sort of Jameis Winston to close out the season, so that they can have their hopes and dreams crushed once again in 2017.
Indianapolis Colts (4-5) - Previously: 27.
Indianapolis was on a bye, so I want to point this out once again: The Colts may have won in Lambeau, but they were outgained by nearly a yard per play, and it could be argued that they would've lost if it weren't for the kickoff return to open the game. Andrew Luck did a great job of converting some key third downs at the end of the game, but it's still fair to wonder if the Colts should be favored by a full field goal against the Titans.
Houston Texans (6-3) - Previously: 25.
Overrated NFL Team: The Texans are definitely not a 6-3 team. Not even close. Their victories have all been unimpressive wins against middling or horrid opponents. They trailed the Bears in the third quarter. They struggled to put away the Chiefs and Lions. They needed a punt return touchdown to defeat the Titans, whom they were tied at 20 with at the end of the third quarter. On a Sunday night, the Colts led by two touchdowns, but blew the lead because of injuries and abysmal decision-making by Chuck Pagano. They needed Blake Bortles to self-destruct to beat the Jaguars. The Texans could easily be 3-6 or worse right now, which is saying a lot considering how easy their strength of schedule has been.
New York Giants (6-3) - Previously: 24.
Overrated NFL Team: When an overrated team keeps winning, they become more overrated. Or, the person generating the list is stupid. But I think it's the former in this case. The Giants definitely do not deserve to have a winning record. They trailed for most of the second half against the Bengals at home. They were outgained by a whole yard per play against the Eagles, but were able to win because of Doug Pederson stupidity. They only won in London because the Rams wrecked themselves with dumb mistakes, and they probably wouldn't have prevailed against Baltimore had the Ravens not lost Jimmy Smith and Terrell Suggs in the second half. Prior to that, the Giants were not competitive against the Vikings or Packers. It would make more sense to me if they were 3-6 or 4-5 right now, as they can't block or run the ball.
Baltimore Ravens (5-4) - Previously: 23.
Overrated NFL Team: The Ravens were lucky to get a Steeler team that was quarterbacked by a hobbled Ben Roethlisberger, and yet they averaged the same yards per play as Pittsburgh - and that includes a fluky 95-yard touchdown in the early going! The Ravens are tied for the AFC North lead, but they don't really deserve it. Their victory over the Browns was very unimpressive, considering it was just a 13-7 affair when Hue Jackson began drunkenly playing musical chairs with his quarterbacks.
Los Angeles Rams (4-5) - Previously: 22.
Underrated NFL Team: Casual bettors miss injuries to significant role players. Part of the reason for that is ESPN focusing on stars and not spending enough time talking about actual substance. Thus, most people may have missed the fact that the Rams were without two of their defensive studs, Robert Quinn and Michael Brockers, against the Bills and Lions. Despite this, Los Angeles and Buffalo were tied at 16 late in the game when Case Keenum lofted a horrible pick-six. Keenum is obviously not any good, but the Rams weren't themselves because they were missing half of their awesome defensive line. The same thing occurred against the Lions. Los Angeles was the better team against the Giants, but just killed itself with dumb mistakes. The same thing occurred versus the Panthers, whom they outgained in terms of yards per play, 5.1-3.9. For that reason, I believe the Rams will provide quality betting opportunities going forward.
Arizona Cardinals (4-4-1) - Previously: 18.
Overrated NFL Team: Arizona's four victories this year have been against the 49ers (twice; one of which was nearly a loss), Jets and Buccaneers. Combined record (counting the 49ers twice): 9-28. Not good. Not good at all. The Cardinals have some major blocking issues, while Carson Palmer, as I've been saying since August, doesn't appear to be the same. I won't completely write them off yet, especially in a very thin NFC, but I'm getting close to doing so.
Carolina Panthers (3-6) - Previously: 17.
What the hell was Cam Newton thinking on that interception? I can excuse Kelvin Benjamin because he had the ball ripped out of his hands by a great player, but Newton's pick-six was inexcusable. Many people were fooled into thinking Newton was back once he briefly rested his hand on his forearm following a touchdown in a ridiculous gesture, but he reverted back to the 2016 version of himself in the fourth quarter.
Fortunately, some good has come of this, as Newton was contacted by the government following the loss to Kansas City:
Cincinnati Bengals (3-5-1) - Previously: 13.
I think Matvei put it perfectly when he texted me the following after the Monday night game:
"Bengals should've won, Giants should've lost. Story of the year for both teams."
Miami Dolphins (5-4) - Previously: 21.
The Dolphins have rallied back to 5-4. It's insane, considering that they were just 1-4 after five games. I figured they'd have a great chance of making the playoffs - until I saw the standings and was reminded that two seven-win teams from the dominant AFC West control both spots in the wild-card race. Wah wah. Sorry, Dolphins, you'll have to make another improbable run following a slow start next year.
Detroit Lions (5-4) - Previously: 16.
The Lions moved into first place in the division by not doing anything. Best. Bye. Week. Ever.
Detroit has a legitimate chance to clinch the NFC North because of the incompetence of the other two teams in contention, but will need Darius Slay and DeAndre Levy back from injury to have any sort of chance to advance past the opening round of the playoffs for the first time since Abraham Lincoln was president.
Green Bay Packers (4-5) - Previously: 11.
Last week, I asked if the Packers should relax or panic. Well, following a blowout loss to the Titans in which two offensive linemen went down with injuries, I think it's time to begin panicking.
I asked Kenny on the Picks Podcast what he would do if he were in charge of the Packers. I suggested that I would fire Mike McCarthy. I never thought McCarthy was a good coach - he was always out-schemed by Jim Harbaugh - and the Packers lack energy, so something is needed to inject some sort of a jolt into this team.
Tennessee Titans (5-5) - Previously: 20.
Underrated NFL Team: I think we can say that the Titans are slightly underrated. It's pretty remarkable that they've been in every single game this year. They led the Vikings in the opener. They had a chance to beat the Raiders at the end of the game in Week 3. They lost in Houston because of a punt return the following Sunday. They made some mental errors in their loss to the Colts. They played evenly with the Chargers even though they lost by eight. Thus, it was no surprise that they crushed the Packers. Tennessee has either won or lost by single digits in every contest this year, and unlike all of the other teams in the AFC South, it actually has an identity. The Titans run the ball well and get to the quarterback effectively with their front seven. They have some glaring issues - sub-par receivers, struggling secondary - but they do a number of things extremely well.
Philadelphia Eagles (5-4) - Previously: 19.
Underrated NFL Team: The Eagles have played better than their recent 2-4 record indicates. They've endured some horrible luck, though Doug Pederson's awful play-calling on fourth down against the Giants didn't help. Philadelphia outgained the Giants by more than one yard per play two weeks ago. Before that, the Eagles had a 10-point lead versus Dallas in the fourth quarter, which was pretty impressive. Philadelphia also should've beaten the Lions, but Ryan Mathews' fumble set up a game-winning Detroit field goal. The Eagles could easily be 7-2 or maybe even 8-1 right now.
Buffalo Bills (4-5) - Previously: 15.
I was close to listing the Bills as underrated, but I'm not sure how they'll be priced in their upcoming game against the Bengals. They're definitely better than their 4-5 record indicates, however. They lost some games because they were missing LeSean McCoy, and their ability to go toe-to-toe with the Seahawks (albeit without Kam Chancellor) was impressive.
New Orleans Saints (4-5) - Previously: 14.
The Saints should have beaten the Broncos. Forget the fact that they lost on their game-winning touchdown and had to endure a poor call by the officials on the blocked extra-point return. They outgained the Broncos in yards per play by a margin of 7.3 to 4.1! That was the largest disparity of the Sunday slate, and the next-closest one was Tennessee over Green Bay, 7.6-5.5. New Orleans absolutely crushed itself with turnovers, including three by Michael Thomas, who fumbled twice and was responsible for an interception. Thomas had been terrific as a rookie prior to that defeat, but it just goes to show that trusting first-year players can backfire sometimes.
Minnesota Vikings (5-4) - Previously: 10.
Underrated NFL Team: The Vikings have lost so much recently that they've entered underrated territory. Much is being made about the fact that they've dropped four in a row, but they definitely could've won their past two games. A 58-yard field goal forced overtime in the Detroit game, while the Vikings were up in the second half against the Redskins, but ultimately lost because Sam Bradford made a terrible decision in Washington territory. It needs to be noted that the Vikings lost Eric Kendricks (hip) and Xavier Rhodes (concussion) to injury versus the Redskins. The Vikings will be better with both back on the field. Plus, Sharrif Floyd has to be returning at some point in the near future. Right...?
Atlanta Falcons (6-4) - Previously: 9.
I hinted at making the Falcons overrated last week. Their victory over Tampa wasn't overly impressive, as the Buccaneers were up, 14-13, prior to losing their starting center. Losing at Philadelphia isn't a horrible thing in general, but I didn't like how the Falcons looked. They were bullied, as the Eagles won the battles in the trenches on both sides of the ball and were able to control the clock as a result. The game would've been a complete blowout if Carson Wentz didn't fumble near midfield and if his receivers didn't once again drop countless passes.
San Diego Chargers (4-6) - Previously: 8.
Underrated NFL Team: In the wake of their latest loss to the Dolphins, I can go back to calling the Chargers underrated. They've endured some horrible luck this year and could easily be 7-3, 8-2 or even 9-1 right now. That misfortune continued at Denver a couple of weeks ago, where a couple of tipped passes and bad goal-line play-calling decided the game. The Miami contest was weird; the Chargers looked like they were going to win, but Philip Rivers uncharacteristically self-destructed in the fourth quarter. San Diego's defense is much better now with Joey Bosa on the field, as he has been absolutely dominant.
Washington Redskins (5-3-1) - Previously: 12.
I listed the Redskins as underrated last week, but I guess I can't do that anymore. They looked great in their victory over an underrated Minnesota squad, and they are now favored by just about a field goal against the Packers. Plus, Kirk Cousins now has a new catchphrase in "Oooooweeeee." It's been proven by mathematicians that Cousins' play increases exponentially once he introduces a new catchphrase to help motivate the team.
Denver Broncos (7-3) - Previously: 7.
Overrated NFL Team: The Broncos became known as a great team because of two marquee victories to begin the season. The first was against the Panthers, who started 1-5. Graham Gano whiffed on a kick, which would've given Carolina the victory. The second was at Cincinnati, a team that has been a disappointment this year as well. Plus, the Bengals had to play in four days. Since then, the Broncos won at Tampa (everyone does that), beat the Texans in a game that was 14-9 late in the third quarter prior to a Houston fumble deep in Denver territory, avenged a loss to the Chargers with the help of numerous tipped interceptions and bad goal-line play-calling, and beat the Saints in a game in which they were dominated because of fluky Michael Thomas fumbles and a blocked extra point. The Broncos are a good team because of their defense, but they were never great.
Oakland Raiders (7-2) - Previously: 6.
Anyone else think that the Raiders might have a stronger homefield advantage playing in Mexico than in Oakland? For some reason, they seldom perform up to their abilities as hosts, and I have to imagine that there will be tons of Raider fans in Mexico. Besides, it's not like I can see Mexicans cheer for Texans. That just seems wrong.
Kansas City Chiefs (7-2) - Previously: 5.
"The Chiefs barely did anything against the Jaguars. All they did was take advantage of Jacksonville mistakes."
I wrote this last week. And guess what? The Chiefs barely did anything against the Panthers. All they did was take advantage of Carolina mistakes.
Kansas City's previous two victories haven't been impressive in the slightest. Granted, Alex Smith played in only one of them, but Smith performed poorly versus the Panthers' struggling secondary.
Pittsburgh Steelers (4-5) - Previously: 3.
I got some flak for ranking the Steelers third last week. They're now fourth, but only because the Seahawks moved up.
I stand by my ranking. Pittsburgh was 4-1 with a healthy Ben Roethlisberger prior to this week. The team is now 4-2, but losing to a top-three NFL team in the final seconds is nothing to be ashamed of. The Steelers and Cowboys played a very evenly matched game, and the only reason Dallas won was because it had the ball last. Pittsburgh undoubtedly is a top-five NFL team as long as Roethlisberger is healthy.
New England Patriots (7-2) - Previously: 1.
Don't call the Patriots moving out of the No. 1 spot in the wake of the Seattle loss an overreaction. This is what I wrote last week:
I almost called the Patriots overrated. Almost. I didn't do so because I'd still rank them No. 1 in my power rankings, so it wouldn't make the most sense. However, let's delve into their wins with Tom Brady, shall we? They began by beating the Browns, who lost Cody Kessler at the end of the first quarter. They then beat the mediocre Bengals, who actually had a 14-10 lead in the third quarter. They followed that up with an 11-point victory at Pittsburgh, but the Steelers started Landry Jones. And prior to the bye, New England avenged its loss to Buffalo, but the Bills didn't have LeSean McCoy.
The Patriots are still a great team, but they had their first challenging game since Brady's return, so it's not a complete surprise that they lost.
If you're a New England fan, at least take solace that Brady and Bill Belichick could use this defeat as motivation. They'll undoubtedly rebound, though the two looked particularly deflated following the loss to Seattle:
Dallas Cowboys (8-1) - Previously: 2.
Two pieces of good news for the Cowboys...
1. Dallas can finally stop hearing about how it hasn't beaten a tough opponent yet. I never bought into this, as dominating the Packers at Lambeau is no easy task. Wait... don't... the... Packers... and... Steelers... have... the... same... record...? Meh, let's just move on.
2. We can finally stop hearing the media talking about whether or not Tony Romo will start, which has been the dumbest story of this football season. Romo was never going to replace Dak Prescott as long as Prescott happened to be performing well.
Speaking of Romo, much was made about Romo's words caught on camera following a late touchdown. Many assumed Romo was saying, "It's his time" of Dak Prescott. I believe he actually said, "Mojito with lime."
Seattle Seahawks (6-2-1) - Previously: 4.
The Seahawks are now No. 1. They have the most impressive victory this year, going into New England, on short rest, and defeating Tom Brady. No one has done that this year, and no one may do that again.
Seattle lost/tied some dubious games earlier in the season, but this is a different team now. Russell Wilson is very close to 100 percent, while Kam Chancellor's return to the lineup means that the Seahawks will no longer be blowing coverages. Plus, Michael Bennett will be returning to the lineup soon. It's pretty remarkable that Seattle won in New England without its top defensive lineman.
Oh, and let's not forget what that victory meant to Seahawk fans. They've had to hear about their goal-line meltdown against the Patriots in the Super Bowl for quite a while now. They were able to finally shut these guys up: