1. Arizona Cardinals
Last week: 1
When the biggest storyline out of your bye week is a leverage play by the head coach into a new contract that is undoubtedly coming anyway, it’s a good few days away from the field.
2. New England Patriots
Last week: 5
It doesn’t even seem like the Pats are operating at complete peak efficiency, yet this just might be one of the select group out of the AFC that can make a legit run at a Lombardi this season. That’s a testament to Bill Belichick of course but also the entire organization for their belief in Mac Jones from draft night on through.
3. Green Bay Packers
Last week: 6
Aaron Rodgers was fantastic on the big stage once again and underscored why that chase for the top seed can mean so much to the Packers after pushing their home record to 5-0 with a win over yet another top NFC contender.
4. Baltimore Ravens
Last week: 2
Listen, AFC North games are often going to be ugly. Maybe not four interceptions from your MVP quarterback ugly all the time but you take your win and move on just as the Ravens will.
5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Last week: 3
Turnovers once again put this group in the hole early but a return to form for Leonard Fournette and Rob Gronkowski in the comeback proved again that the champs will be extremely hard to knock off when games become single elimination.
6. Kansas City Chiefs
Last week: 4
After all the handwringing of the first part of the season, the Chiefs come off their bye a game out of the top spot with a schedule ahead that they are completely capable of winning out with.
7. Buffalo Bills
Last week: 11
A little more normalcy in that romp over New Orleans on Thanksgiving but let’s face it, the next two will be the real test as to whether the Bills are really a contender in the AFC or the cracks we’ve seen the past few weeks have the hallmarks of a pretender.
8. Dallas Cowboys
Last week: 7
One has to balance the fact that this is a group seemingly playing with one hand behind their backs given some of the personnel losses with the fact that the Cowboys also haven’t played well enough to get the wins they should be the last few weeks.
9. Cincinnati Bengals
Last week: 12
It’s not just that the Bengals swept their division rivals for the first time since 2009, it was the way they did it that announced this is a group you have to start taking a lot more seriously down the stretch given how fearless they play.
10. Tennessee Titans
Last week: 10
Are we finally starting to see all those injuries to key players start to show up in the loss column? While getting thumped by the Texans and the Patriots are two very different things, each brings a new set of worries in Nashville.
11. Los Angeles Rams
Last week: 8
This was shaping up to be an all-in type of season but instead the Rams prized QB acquisition can’t stop throwing pick-sixes and the supposedly stellar defense is a lot shakier than expected.
12. Las Vegas Raiders
Last week: 19
That win over Dallas in overtime had to feel like the best kind of catharsis after what this team has been through but there’s still a lot more work left to be done given how bunched the standings are.
13. Los Angeles Chargers
Last week: 9
It wasn’t long ago that you could see the makings of a top seed in the AFC but really since that Baltimore blowout this group hasn’t been the same as they’ve regressed to 6-5 and thrown up more questions than answers for their young head coach.
14. San Francisco 49ers
Last week: 15
Deebo Samuel’s injury marred an otherwise fun game to keep this win streak going and keep the door ajar for bigger things from the 49ers.
15. Indianapolis Colts
Last week: 14
The Colts have plenty of scars from Tom Brady coming to town that sting more than what happened on Sunday but for a squad starting to show real signs of momentum, that five-turnover, double-digit blown lead hurts just as bad.
16. Cleveland Browns
Last week: 17
While you have to admire Baker Mayfield for trying to keep going out there and trying to will this group to wins, it just isn’t happening for the suspect quarterback nor the rest of this talented but flawed team.
17. Minnesota Vikings
Last week: 13
That loss to the 49ers may come back to bite this group in the end given potential tiebreakers for a wild card spot but at least Kene Nwangwu provided a bit of life in an otherwise disappointing effort on the road that again calls into question Kirk Cousins’ ability to lead this franchise.
18. Denver Broncos
Last week: 23
The injury list is long and the QB situation remains unsolved long-term but maybe this little spurt of three wins in four gives Vic Fangio some hope of returning next season.
19. Washington Football Team
Last week: 21
It was far from pretty against the Seahawks on Monday night but three straight is three straight and suddenly a team previously written off by many is sitting in that No. 7 seed with plenty of momentum.
20. Pittsburgh Steelers
Last week: 16
The Steelers are closer in the standings and on the field to the Lions and Jets than they are the division lead and that’s without a peek ahead at a schedule that features six easily losable games the rest of the way.
21. Philadelphia Eagles
Last week: 18
Playing on the road at a division rival is always tough but losing in that fashion to the Giants feels like a momentum killer for a team that you thought could climb up the standings as their young core emerged.
22. Miami Dolphins
Last week: 24
Old Alabama teammates Tua Tagovailoa and Jaylen Waddle having good chemistry is no surprise but for the tandem to elevate their games at this point in the year is certainly a big reason why the ‘Fins have gone from the most disappointing side in the AFC to one of the hottest.
23. New Orleans Saints
Last week: 20
Four straight losses, a QB change and a motivated Cowboys side in prime time upcoming is not the recipe to get back over the hump for the Saints.
24. Carolina Panthers
Last week: 22
CMC is done for the year and the clock sure seems like its struck midnight on the artist formerly known as MVP Cam. Maybe those rumors about Matt Rhule going back to college surfaced for a reason.
25. Chicago Bears
Last week: 26
Needing a late drive to beat the Lions doesn’t give anybody faith in Matt Nagy being here in 2022 but it sure beats the alternative to what Bears fans could have been feeling while munching on leftovers after Thanksgiving.
26. Atlanta Falcons
Last week: 27
Atlanta got the win by mostly making fewer mistakes and taking advantage of the Jags but outside of actually putting up points on the board, there’s still not much to buy into just yet with this group.
27. Seattle Seahawks
Last week: 25
It’s time to say it out loud in case it wasn’t abundantly clear: Russell Wilson never should have been rushed back because the results on the field from his performance just haven’t been worth it.
28. New York Giants
Last week: 30
Seemed fitting for having Michael Strahan in the house to get his number retired that the G-Men would turn in a defensive effort like that against a rival like the Eagles.
29. New York Jets
Last week: 29
Gotta love the NFL, where players like Austin Walter can emerge from complete obscurity and become a weekly hero for teams like the Jets.
30. Houston Texans
Last week: 28
You knew the game against the Jets would be either a continuation off that high of beating the Titans or a back-to-reality trip for one of the few rosters worse than New York and the answer was pretty obvious which way the team was going to play on Sunday.
31. Jacksonville Jaguars
Last week: 31
There have been a ton of jokes made about Urban Meyer going back to the college game but with his one-time self-described dream job of Notre Dame shockingly coming open, maybe that kind of talk isn’t so funny anymore and rather something that all parties could be willing to sign up for.
32. Detroit Lions
Last week: 32
What’s really the annual tradition at this point, Detroit playing on Thanksgiving or the masses watching complaining about the dreadful Lions playing yet again on one of the best holidays of the year?