Updated: Oct. 10
Cleveland Browns (0-5) - Previously: 32.
I can't believe I bet on the Browns last week even though I swore I wouldn't. It was half of a unit, but still. Cleveland actually outplayed the Jets and should've won by double digits, but the Browns continued to do stupid things, especially in the red zone. I had an exchange with Matvei about it:
Me: It's unbelievable how they self destructed so many times.
Matvei: It's actually the most believable thing ever.
I'm glad, by the way, that Hue Jackson benched DeShone Kizer. I don't think Kizer is a lost cause, or anything, but the game is going too quickly for him right now. He needs to sit for a few weeks and watch from afar to get a grasp of what's happening on the field. I wouldn't be opposed to trying him again in November.
Miami Dolphins (2-2) - Previously: 31.
Could the Dolphins have looked worse in their victory? They needed a weird strip-six from the Titans to beat Matt freaking Cassel at home! Jay Cutler was terrible, and the offensive line was even worse. Despite the Dolphins having two more victories than a couple of other teams in the NFL, they have to be slotted at No. 31. They stink.
New York Jets (3-2) - Previously: 30.
I love how the "division-leading" Jets are 9.5-point home underdogs to the Patriots. Good lord, how did this team win three games, let alone one? They've battled teams that haven't tried at all (Dolphins, Jaguars) and then lucked into a victory against the Browns. I think I'm going to consider the Jets to be an 0-5 team at heart.
San Francisco 49ers (0-5) - Previously: 29.
Credit the 49ers for battling teams closely each week. Granted, none of these teams are good, and San Francisco has been down big twice and was able to accumulate garbage points, but still. Perhaps Reuben Foster's return to the lineup will help the 49ers finally get over the hump, whenever that happens.
Look at this, by the way. It's the ultimate proof of incompetence:
How does this even happen? First of all, how would Adam Vinatieri be short on a 38-yard attempt? And second, why would the 49er player fair catch the short field goal to pin his own team at the 1-yard line?
This never happened - CBS made a mistake - but I thought it was amusing to see, nonetheless.
Indianapolis Colts (2-3) - Previously: 28.
If Marcus Mariota misses Week 6, and the Colts can manage to defeat the Titans, they'll be 3-3 with Andrew Luck being just a couple of games away from being able to play. With the Texans suffering major injuries, and Mariota being so prone to getting hurt, I would definitely not discount Indianapolis somehow sneaking out a divisional victory if Luck can return by November.
Arizona Cardinals (2-3) - Previously: 26.
Overrated NFL Team: It might seem weird to list the Cardinals as overrated because they're coming off a blowout loss, but I don't think most people are aware of how terrible they are yet. They can't block whatsoever, and they haven't held a lead after the end of regulation yet this year. Think about that for a second. They've needed overtime to beat two poor teams, the 49ers and Colts, who have a combined 2-8 record. And the only reason Indianapolis has two victories is because it had the luxury of playing the Browns and 49ers!
New York Giants (0-5) - Previously: 21.
The Giants need to begin tanking in an attempt to land the best player in the 2018 NFL Draft. That's the easy part. The hard part is deciding whether to draft Sam Darnold, Saquon Barkley and Josh Rosen. The front office better begin deciding now.
Speaking of the Giants' front office, the team's new helmet has been leaked. In honor of beginning the year 0-5, the Giants have decided to go with this:
Chicago Bears (1-4) - Previously: 25.
Underrated NFL Team: The Bears aren't nearly as bad as they looked on national TV against the Packers. They were playing on a short week, and if you take away Mike Glennon's three horrible turnovers, Chicago played almost evenly with Green Bay. The Bears defeated the Steelers and almost took down the Falcons and Vikings, and now they have a healthy offensive line. Their linebackers were brutal versus Minnesota, but Danny Trevathan will be back next week.
Los Angeles Chargers (1-4) - Previously: 23.
The Chargers finally found a way not to lose. All it took was four injuries to the Giants' receivers, including Odell Beckham! Still, the Chargers are barely alive, even though they're on life support. With games coming up against the Raiders (Derek Carr could be back), Broncos and Patriots in three consecutive weeks, they could be officially out of playoff contention very quickly. Hopefully a high draft pick will allow them to finally upgrade their offensive line.
Houston Texans (2-3) - Previously: 11.
The Texans made a huge jump in my power rankings last week, but they've plummeted this week because of the J.J. Watt and Whitney Mercilus injuries. Their absences will greatly impact the defense. I've heard some people on TV say, "Well, they were great without Watt last year!" This is true, but they now won't have Mercilus, who is out for the season, as well as A.J. Bouye, Quintin Demps and John Simon, all of whom departed in free agency.
Speaking of Mercilus, check out my Disaster Grades for his injury, as well as Watt's.
Baltimore Ravens (3-2) - Previously: 27.
I'm not going to move the Ravens up very much for a victory over E.J. Manuel in which they were gifted a free touchdown because of a Jared Cook fumble. They're one week removed from being unable to compete with a Steeler team that was blown out at home versus Jacksonville.
Buffalo Bills (3-2) - Previously: 17.
Remember when the Bills were so hyped up about defeating the Falcons, even though Atlanta lost Julio Jones in the second quarter? Perhaps they should've focused more on beating the Bengals. They could've been blown out in that game had Cincinnati not committed some very fluky turnovers.
Jacksonville Jaguars (3-2) - Previously: 22.
As I said last week, it really is a shame that Bortles is weighing the Jaguars down so much. With a competent quarterback, they'd be 3-1 right now. With a great signal-caller, they'd be 4-0.
Well, make that 4-1 and 5-0. Jacksonville crushed the Steelers, but only because the defense picked off a regressing Ben Roethlisberger five times. The team won in spite of Bortles, who was brutal once again. He was just 8-of-14 for 95 yards and an interception, though the pick wasn't his fault. Amazingly, he attempted just one pass in the second half!
Cincinnati Bengals (2-3) - Previously: 24.
I listed the Bengals as overrated last week, but I was wrong. They easily beat the Bills, considering how many fluky turnovers they had. I don't really know what to make of Cincinnati right now, so I'm glad I have an entire week to reevaluate them. They've been so much better since they fired their offensive coordinator, but I still don't trust them because their offensive line sucks. Meanwhile, their defense is much better with Vontaze Burfict back from suspension, so that's been a major factor for their improvement.
New Orleans Saints (2-2) - Previously: 19.
The Saints have done a good job of rebounding to improve to 2-2. Unfortunately, they suffered some losses in their victories, as both Zach Strief and Alex Anzalone were placed on injured reserve. Check out the Disaster Grades for both of those players getting hurt.
Minnesota Vikings (3-2) - Previously: 18.
It's ridiculous that Sam Bradford is still hurt. Again, when did this injury happen? It's like the wind blew into his knee and shattered it. He couldn't even move Monday night! Case Keenum should just remain the starter until Teddy Bridgewater is ready to play because it seems like Bradford won't be healthy until 2023.
Los Angeles Rams (3-2) - Previously: 16.
I thought the Rams would have trouble with the Seahawks because they were a young upstart that happened to be favored over a perennial Super Bowl contender. It turns out that my concerns for them were highly warranted. They played well when they weren't making dumb mistakes, but the dumb mistakes were far too frequent. It started at the very beginning when Todd Gurley fumbled into the pylon, and it kept going until the very end when Cooper Kupp dropped a touchdown. Overall, however, it appeared as though the Rams were the better team. They just need to learn how to win big games when their opponent is focused on them.
Seattle Seahawks (3-2) - Previously: 14.
Overrated NFL Team: I'm hesitant to call the Seahawks overrated because they're fully capable of going on a great winning streak following their bye. However, they have not looked impressive at all this year, save for the second half against the Colts. They can't block whatsoever, they struggle to run the ball, and the defense just doesn't look the same. Jared Goff had way too much success for my liking in Sunday's matchup, and Seattle would have lost had the Rams not killed themselves with numerous careless mistakes.
Tennessee Titans (2-3) - Previously: 13.
I'm ranking the Titans as if Marcus Mariota will return soon, and that sounds like it'll be the case. Mike Mularkey said Mariota could be back this week, though it's unclear how mobile he'll be. What we do know is that, regardless of his status, he would be a better option that Matt Cassel. He'd be a better choice than Cassel even if he had to be in a wheelchair! I still can't believe Tennessee went into the season with Cassel as its No. 2 quarterback. That's inexcusable. Did they not watch him be terrible with the Cowboys two years ago? Or did they think that having the worst backup of all time was a good strategy?
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-2) - Previously: 12.
The Buccaneers lost Thursday night, but a former player was the big winner. That would be Roberto Aguayo, who would be welcomed back with open arms in Tampa Bay right now. After all, Nick Folk whiffed on three kicks, including one from 31 yards.
Wikipedia already had Folk gone Thursday night:
Detroit Lions (3-2) - Previously: 9.
There's some concern with the Lions now, as Matthew Stafford appears to be a bit banged up. The manner in which the Panthers pressured him was worrying as well. I know that Greg Robinson is a big-time liability at left tackle, but what in the world happened to the rest of the blocking unit? Why were they so incompetent?
Dallas Cowboys (2-3) - Previously: 15.
Overrated NFL Team: The Cowboys were definitely legitimate in 2016, but I thought they'd take a step backward this season, and that's exactly what's happening. They lost two members of their fantastic offensive line, while three key players in their secondary have departed as well. Tyron Smith isn't healthy at all, while Sean Lee continues to miss action.
Washington Redskins (2-2) - Previously: 10.
I'm still getting over what happened last Monday night. Seriously, I've woken up in cold sweats, reliving what happened on the final play of the game. ARGH, WHY COULDN'T ANDY REID HANDLE THE CLOCK CORRECTLY!? WHY COULDN'T JUSTIN HOUSTON FALL ON THE BALL!? WHY DO THE FOOTBALL GAMBLING GODS S**T ON MY HOPES AND DREAMS!?
Oh, and speaking of Terrelle Pryor (I wasn't speaking of him, but I don't feel like coming up with a segue)...
Terrelle Pryor's Race for 1,800:
Current Receiving Yards: 186
Currently on Pace for: 744
Yards Per Game Needed for 1,800: 134.5
I've called everyone I've seen on ESPN a "f***ing p***k" Monday night because of my anger toward the Chiefs-Redskins finish, so I won't even mention the analyst who inspired this segment.
Oakland Raiders (2-3) - Previously: 8.
Underrated NFL Team: Some are talking as if they're writing off the Raiders already. As long as Derek Carr is healthy - it sounds like he'll play this Sunday - I certainly will not. The Raiders hung tight in Denver despite not having Michael Crabtree and losing cornerbacks David Amerson and Gareon Conley to injury. That said, they need Amerson and Conley back from injury as well because they were severely missed versus Baltimore.
Pittsburgh Steelers (3-2) - Previously: 3.
What happened to Ben Roethlisberger? He hasn't looked right all year, and he had a complete meltdown versus the Jaguars. He told the media that he may not have it anymore, but perhaps something else is going on. I think you know what time it is...
The Adventures of Derek Anderson's Magic Flask!
Ben Roethlisberger: I'm sucking so bad this year. It's Friday, and I don't think I've figured anything out with this Jaguar defense.
Ben Roethlisberger: Well, it's true that I said I was considering retirement this offseason, as I have aspirations to join the National Skeeball League. That said, I thought I'd gut it out for one more year so I can make more money to buy skeeball equipment.
Carolina Panthers (4-1) - Previously: 20.
Yes, I'm an idiot for calling the Panthers overrated last week. That was extremely dumb. Carolina was absolutely dominant on the road against the Lions.
By the way, can we stop it with this "Newton overcame adversity to beat the Lions" nonsense? It's not adversity if you create it yourself! It's so stupid that the talking heads on TV think that Newton should be given credit for overcoming his own comments.
Philadelphia Eagles (4-1) - Previously: 7.
Underrated NFL Team: Philadelphia's success isn't surprising to me because I projected them to go 12-4 in my season previews. However, the Lane Johnson concussion is concerning. Johnson's return this year was one of the main reasons I loved the Eagles so much. They were 5-1 with him last year and only 2-8 without him. Johnson almost certainly won't play Thursday night because of the short rest. He should return after that, but you never truly know with concussions. That said, if Johnson is out for only one game, and the Eagles lose, that could throw people off the scent again, so I'm going to keep listing them as underrated.
Denver Broncos (3-1) - Previously: 5.
The Broncos have a great opportunity to rack up some victories prior to a very tough stretch in their schedule. They take on the Giants and Chargers following their bye, and they could be 5-1 heading into a gauntlet where they play at Kansas City and at Philadelphia before returning home for New England. Then, after taking on the Bengals, who have improved lately, they have to go to Oakland. Thus, the Broncos really need to make sure they beat up on their creampuff opponents.
New England Patriots (3-2) - Previously: 4.
It's amazing how the media overreacts to things...
Prior to Thursday night: THE PATRIOTS HAVE TEH WORST DEFENSE ON THE NFL THEY ARE SUCK!!!
After Thursday night: OMG TEH PATRIOTS ARE BACK THEY'RE DEFENSE ARE GREAT NOW THEY ARE GOING TO SUPERGAME!!!
I think it's somewhere in between. The Patriots weren't nearly as bad as they looked versus Carolina, but they still have some major issues they need to address. Fortunately for them, they have the best coach in the NFL to figure things out over the next 12 weeks.
Green Bay Packers (4-1) - Previously: 6.
The Packers posted 35 on the Cowboys despite missing their left tackle. I know Dallas didn't have Sean Lee, but still. Green Bay seems ready to catch fire and win tons of consecutive games, especially now that the team has a legitimate running back.
By the way, I highly enjoyed the edit on Dallas' Wikipedia page following the latest loss to Green Bay, and I'm sure Packer fans would agree:
Atlanta Falcons (3-1) - Previously: 2.
The Falcons are coming off a bye, so I don't have much to say about them. Oh, outside of the fact that I had a dream where I was talking to Matt Ryan. I was hoping Ryan would give me some inside football knowledge, but instead, he shared some information on how he saves money at the airport by not getting charged for baggage. I wish I remembered what he said so I could save money, too. Alas, I cannot recall Ryan's airport insight.
Kansas City Chiefs (5-0) - Previously: 1.
The Chiefs benefited from J.J. Watt and Whitney Mercilus getting hurt on the opening drive, but I don't think that means they would've lost to the Texans. It wouldn't have been as easy, but they were already converting third downs at an alarming rate. Still, they didn't have to worry about backup guard Cameron Erving's matchup versus Watt, which was a troubling matchup heading into the game. It's the primary reason why I thought Houston would win!
And yes, yes, Smith is taking more shots downfield, blah blah blah. We know, everyone on TV. You don't have to parrot each other. We're well aware that Smith isn't being a chicken wuss on third down for the first time in his career. Perhaps that'll translate to the playoffs.