Updated: Nov. 14
Cleveland Browns (0-9) - Previously: 32.
A reader published a mock draft with the Browns picking Baker Mayfield first overall. That seems like something Cleveland would do. You know, the dumb things like running a sneak with no timeouts remaining at the end of a half, and forgetting to submit paperwork for a trade. Yes, brilliant things like that.
New York Giants (1-8) - Previously: 26.
Giants fans are so desperate to fire Ben McAdoo. I ask, "Why?" Don't you want him coaching so that the Giants lose their next seven games so that they can get a top-two pick in the 2018 NFL Draft? After all, I can't see the Giants getting up to play hard for a coach who comes up with remarkable quotes like this one:
Houston Texans (3-6) - Previously: 30.
I think it's time to talk about the elephant in the room. The Texans are starting Tom Savage Knuckleblade, but there's a better option out there. A quarterback who has been a free agent this whole time. A mobile quarterback with a great arm. Yes. Robert Griffin.
In all seriousness, I'd say the Texans are better off losing, but they don't have a draft pick, thanks to the Deshaun Watson trade. That has to be the most depressing thing about this for Texans fans. At least Giants supporters can look at this season and say, "Hey, we'll be getting a great player in the draft." Houston fans can't really do that. That said, I doubt any of them would redo the Watson deal.
San Francisco 49ers (1-9) - Previously: 31.
I posted this last week, but e-mailer David H., from Wales, found this picture that may have inspired John Lynch and Kyle Shanahan:
Why do I bring it up again? Because of this:
This is unreal. It's almost like the 49ers have telegraphed their decision to tank this year. Unfortunately, they did not do a good job of it, as they beat the Giants because they tried harder than them.
Arizona Cardinals (4-5) - Previously: 24.
Arizona's season is officially over in the wake of its loss to the Seahawks. The Cardinals, at least, were able to cover the spread with a last-second touchdown. Or, wait. Never mind. Phil Dawson's extra point was blocked in a sequence that almost felt scripted!
It's worth noting that the Cardinals were +6.5 in a picking pool I'm a part of with Awesome Kelly from Arizona. I didn't feel strongly about this game, so I told her to choose the winner. She picked the Cardinals, and after I congratulated her, she said the following:
"I just went with my gut. I'll also be real, my gut just gets bigger and maybe smarter from beer. Write thay down."
Write thay down, I did.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-6) - Previously: 25.
You may ask why the Buccaneers moved down after winning. My answer: Is beating Josh McCown and a terrible Jets team worth shifting a team up in the rankings? Plus, I moved some teams up like the Colts and Packers, both of whom actually had impressive performances this past week.
Miami Dolphins (4-5) - Previously: 23.
Miami's lack of effort against the Panthers was alarming. What if this sort of lethargy translated to other professions? It would be like your dentist drilling the wrong tooth and then just saying "meh" when you had blood spilling everywhere. And yet, the Dolphin defenders who slacked off are paid so much more money! How can they be allowed to get away with this?
Cincinnati Bengals (3-6) - Previously: 27.
The Bengals have played 120 minutes of football over the past two weeks, obviously. They've controlled the ball for a combined 38 of those 120 minutes. Unreal.
Cincinnati is terrible. The team can't block, and the defense has been a disappointment. The Bengals lost by just four at Tennessee, but the Titans were sleepwalking throughout the game, which is something the announcers pointed out on multiple occasions during the telecast. The fact that Cincinnati couldn't even beat a completely lethargic Tennessee squad just shows how bad they are.
Indianapolis Colts (3-7) - Previously: 28.
The Colts might be 3-7, but except for a shutout loss to the Jaguars, they've been competitive in EVERY single game this year. They have some solid players on defense and a couple of play-makers on offense. It's a shame that Andrew Luck wasn't able to play at all this year because Indianapolis would probably be 6-4 or maybe even 7-3 right now.
Green Bay Packers (5-4) - Previously: 29.
Yeah, I don't know either. I have no idea how Brett Hundley, coming off two weeks of preparation, looked like trash against the Lions on a Monday night, and then was so magnificent against a superior Chicago defense on a short work week. It makes no sense! What I do know, however, is if Hundley keeps playing like he did against the Bears, the Packers will make the playoffs. The question is whether he will, and I just don't know.
New York Jets (4-6) - Previously: 21.
I hope all of those wins were worth it... The Jets are now out of playoff consideration and also out of the realm of top three picks in the 2018 NFL Draft. It now has to be asked: What the hell are the Jets going to do at quarterback next year? Start Josh McCown again? Pray that Christian Hackenberg learns how to throw a forward pass? Blackmail the Redskins into trading Kirk Cousins to them?
Chicago Bears (3-6) - Previously: 19.
Underrated NFL Team: The Bears lost by a touchdown to the Packers. They also happened to lose a touchdown because of John Fox's stupid challenge. Had the Bears maintained possession, perhaps they would've forced overtime. I think they took that game for granted anyway after seeing Brett Hundley struggle so much on national TV. I expect Chicago to rebound, especially with Kyle Long due back from injury.
At any rate, what the hell was Fox thinking at the time of the challenge? I think you know what it's time for...
The Adventures of Derek Anderson's Magic Flask!
John Fox: Oh, man! That looked like a touchdown to me. I wish it was a touchdown because it was a screen, and I don't believe long passes should be legal in the NFL. If only Benny Cunningham got into the end zone.
John Fox: Oh, man! Taking a sip sounds risky! Or, am I taking too much of a risk by not taking a sip? Oh, man. I'm going to regret this, but give me your flask.
Derek Anderson: Nooo,, ccooaocch I ssaiidd siipp nootot chuugg!!!
*** Ten seconds later ***
John Fox: RAFARREE RASFFARREE III HAVVEVE REEDDD FLFLLALGG CHCHALLALANNENGGEEEEE HIC!
Official: Good lord, what is that stench from your mouth? Anyway, are you sure you want to challenge? If it's a fumble, you won't get first-and-goal at the 2-yard line.
John Fox: RRRANNDDALLL CUNNNINGGHHAAMMM MAKAKKEE TOTOUCHCHDWOOWN I SSAWWEEDD IITTT WIEITITHH MMYY OWOWOENN EEYEYESS CHCHAALLELENNGNGNEEEE!!!
Official: OK, if you say so...
*** A minute later ***
Official: The runner fumbled the ball and it hit the pylon. It's a touchback.
John Fox: TTOOOOUCHCHCDOOWWNWNN!!! I WINNENNEED CHAHALLELELNNGGEEE HIC!
Baltimore Ravens (4-5) - Previously: 20.
Baltimore's run defense has been better with Brandon Williams back in the lineup, but the offense is still so anemic. Joe Flacco thinks that can change, however, according to his comments on Thursday:
"We can't sit back and just expect us not to lose football games. We got to go attack. We have to go after it."
Flacco was immediately placed back into concussion protocol once NFL doctors heard that quote.
Denver Broncos (3-6) - Previously: 22.
Underrated NFL Team: The Broncos were blown out against the Patriots, but their special teams allowed 17 points. They also looked awful against the Eagles, but that couldn't have been a surprise. They were playing their third-consecutive road game on a short week after making a trip to the East Coast. Denver's defense, despite the performance at Philadelphia, is still great. Plus, it's important to note that the Broncos have played some extremely difficult games lately, so they'll rebound against worse competition.
Buffalo Bills (5-4) - Previously: 14.
Underrated NFL Team: The Bills suffered blowout defeats against the Jets and Saints, transitioning them from overrated to underrated territory. They simply didn't show up two Thursday nights ago, and the Saints have been steamrolling everyone. The Bills are still a solid team that should continue to compete for a playoff spot.
Jacksonville Jaguars (6-3) - Previously: 18.
Overrated NFL Team: The Jaguars prevailed over the Chargers because Los Angeles made so many mistakes. Jacksonville had just one legitimate scoring drive in that contest. The team also had a nice win over a lethargic Cincinnati team that couldn't pressure the quarterback or get off the field on third down. Plus, the result would've likely been 16-7 if it weren't for a punt return, which is obviously less impressive than 23-7. Blake Bortles still sucks, his receivers are pedestrian, and his offensive line is not good. The Jaguars are just an average team, and they remind me of the Giants from 2016. They're overachieving, and they're likely going to make the playoffs, but they'll lose in the postseason right away and will win just 3-4 games next year once things stop going their way.
Tennessee Titans (6-3) - Previously: 17.
The Titans won by just four at home against the Bengals, but they didn't look like they were trying very hard. The CBS announcers echoed those sentiments. I suppose that's understandable, as Cincinnati was a weak opponent not worth showing up for, and Tennessee had a big game against the Steelers coming up in just four days. What's most important is that Marcus Mariota finally showed that he's willing to scramble often, which is something we haven't seen from him since his Week 4 injury.
Oakland Raiders (4-5) - Previously: 16.
There are some rumors that Oakland's offensive line intentionally injured Derek Carr because he didn't kneel for the national anthem with them. If it's true, I'm wondering if I can bill Mark Davis for his players losing my Over 9.5 wins prop bet that I made in August. Then again, Davis will probably just send me some vouchers to get one of his Captain Kangaroo haircuts, so it's probably not worth it.
Washington Redskins (4-5) - Previously: 15.
Underrated NFL Team: The Redskins have fallen to 4-5, but they have all of their offensive linemen back from injury. I'm not sure why they were so bad defensively versus the Vikings, as Case Keenum threw for four touchdowns against them, but I think it might have something to do with playing such a physical game against the Seahawks and then flying home from across the country. That's my theory, anyway, so I expect Washington to play better going forward.
Oh, and speaking of Terrelle Pryor (or not)...
Terrelle Pryor's Race for 1,800:
Current Receiving Yards: 240
Currently on Pace for: 426
Yards Per Game Needed for 1,800: 222.9
Don't count him out just yet. Seven more games to go!
Detroit Lions (5-4) - Previously: 13.
If the Browns didn't Browns their game away against the Lions, Detroit may have lost to the winless Browns. Cleveland led for most of the afternoon in what seemed like a sleepy effort against Detroit, yet the Lions not only won, but they covered as well!
And yes, I used "Browns" as a verb, and I hope that after we've seen from them this season, others start doing so as well.
Browns (verb), Brownsed, Brownsing
1. to screw up a potential victory by doing stupid things.
2. to avoid drafting talented quarterbacks and then trade for inferior quarterbacks, only to fail to get the paperwork in.
3. to depress loyal fans into horrible states of drunken stupors
Los Angeles Chargers (3-6) - Previously: 12.
The Chargers might be the best 3-6 team ever. Or, they're the best at screwing up potential victories. One of those two. Either way, they're the best at something.
Seriously, though, the Chargers have won just three of nine games, but the talent they have on their team, particularly their defense, is unreal. With Denzel Perryman back on the field, their front seven is amazing, and it shouldn't surprise anyone that they clamped down on Leonard Fournette so easily. What they need are better offensive linemen and a coaching staff that actually knows what the hell it's doing.
Dallas Cowboys (5-4) - Previously: 8.
I guess we can't call the Cowboys overrated anymore in the wake of their blowout loss at Atlanta. What a horrible and arrogant game plan, by the way. You'd think they'd come up with the idea to help their backup left tackle, but apparently not. I guess the reigning NFL Head Coach of the Year is above all that.
The Ezekiel Elliott suspension didn't help matters, but Dallas would've gotten smoked with Elliott as well. Speaking of Elliott, I thought there was something familiar about the announcement that he would be suspended:
Atlanta Falcons (5-4) - Previously: 11.
Overrated NFL Team: The Falcons had a blowout victory over the Cowboys, so everything's fine now, right!? I think that was more about Dallas being overrated and Atlanta being desperate for a win. I'm not convinced the Falcons have solved all of their problems, though we'll have a better idea of that come Monday night versus Seattle.
Kansas City Chiefs (6-3) - Previously: 9.
I dropped the Chiefs considerably last week, but their defense has just been so bad. Plus, their 6-3 record is a bit tainted, as they're really only 5-3 without Eric Berry, and they were lucky to beat the Eagles in Week 2, as a billion things went their way in that game.
The good news, however, is that Andy Reid is the master of preparing the team during bye weeks, so expect a great game plan against the... umm... Giants... OK, I guess they were going to win that game anyway.
Minnesota Vikings (7-2) - Previously: 10.
Overrated NFL Team: Case Keenum throwing four touchdowns...? Seriously? Come on. The Vikings, as they stand right now, are overrated. However, I think they have a good chance of making a deep playoff run if they go to Teddy Bridgewater soon. Keenum seems like one of the many one-and-done playoff signal-callers we've seen over the years, while Bridgewater has what it takes to win in the postseason.
Carolina Panthers (7-3) - Previously: 7.
The Panthers slaughtered Miami so badly that Derek Anderson even entered the game in the fourth quarter. And I have to tell you, he looked a little too sober for my liking!
Carolina dominated Monday night, but I don't know how significant that is, given that the Dolphins didn't bother putting any effort into tackling.
Seattle Seahawks (6-3) - Previously: 5.
The Seahawks were able to grind out a win against the Cardinals, but lost Richard Sherman in the process. I don't think it's out of the question that they can win a Super Bowl, but doing so seems so much more unlikely now. They already had issues on offense, and now they'll be missing their top cornerback. Russell Wilson will have to come up with even crazier plays to will his team to victory.
Speaking of Wilson, what was up with him in the tent? He entered, and without even being checked out, he left right away. This is what his time in the tent reminded me of:
Pittsburgh Steelers (7-2) - Previously: 3.
I almost marked the Steelers down as 6-3. Pittsburgh nearly losing to Indianapolis should count as a loss, now that I think about it. Seriously, if Ben Roethlisberger hasn't fixed his mistakes yet, will he ever do it this year?
By the way, the Steelers are now 3-17 against the spread as road favorites of eight or more since 1990. That's insane! It's almost as if they don't cover on purpose.
Los Angeles Rams (7-2) - Previously: 4.
The Rams were half-asleep in the first half against the Texans, yet they still won in a blowout. Amazing. This team is incredibly well-rounded, and it can certainly make a deep push into the playoffs.
By the way, I heard some NFL TV analyst mention Jared Goff as an MVP candidate. Goff has worked very hard to improve this year, but I wouldn't slot him in the top five of MVP candidates. I don't even know if he's the MVP of his own team! I think that distinction belongs to Todd Gurley, and perhaps even Andrew Whitworth.
New Orleans Saints (7-2) - Previously: 6.
I've been reluctant to put the Saints in my top five all year. However, they've crushed me in so many games, including this latest one for five units, that I feel like I have no choice. I'm still not sold that New Orleans' defense is elite, but it's at least good, and the Saints have an incredible ground attack to complement Drew Brees.
New England Patriots (7-2) - Previously: 2.
I think the Week 11 game versus the Raiders is going to be very telling. Bill Belichick is the master of making adjustments with extra time to prepare, so it'll be interesting to see what he can come up with following the bye. Has he figured out how to improve the defense? Can he bolster Tom Brady's pass protection? Will he be able to use mind control over another player like he did with Travis Benjamin?
And note that I didn't even mention the Broncos game because that was effectively bye week No. 2 for New England.
Philadelphia Eagles (8-1) - Previously: 1.
The Eagles were already the best team in the NFL, and now they'll be getting Ronald Darby back from injury. That's scary. Scary and awesome, as I practically tell everyone that I have a 35:1 ticket on the Eagles to win the Super Bowl. I effectively tell that to everyone as I introduce myself nowadays. "Hi, my name is Walt, and I have a 35:1 ticket on the Eagles to win the Super Bowl."
The MVP race:
1. Carson Wentz
2. Tom Brady
3. Drew Brees
4. Cam Newton
5. Russell Wilson
No changes this week, aside from Newton and Wilson switching spots. As mentioned, Jared Goff has been discussed as an MVP candidate, but I'd move Todd Gurley into that list before Goff.