I'm keeping the write-ups short and sweet today, and letting the group titles tell you more about where I'm at with these rankings. Lots of shuffling this week in the mid- to low-tier teams, and yes, I included the TNF win for the Texans over the Colts. Why not? Since it's my birthday, I'd love to hear what YOU think about these rankings, and what you think about everyone's chances and positions moving forward. Comment away, ye lads. On with the show...
Remember, if you don't like where you are in the rankings...play better!
So Far, Unstoppable
1. Detroit Lions
2. Kansas City Chiefs
3. San Francisco 49ers
Not at all sure how two of these teams are still undefeated (well, I kind of do: SF has played a super-easy schedule so far, and KC caught MIA with some injuries), but I've been very impressed. The Chiefs taking out the Jags last weekend was eye-opening, to say the least. Do I think that San Francisco is ACTUALLY the 3rd best team in the League? No, I do not, but as of today, 4-0 is only wearable by three squads. That counts for something.
Right There, Waiting for a Slip-Up
4. Green Bay Packers
5. Miami Dolphins
6. Philadelphia Eagles
7. Tennessee Titans
8. Jacksonville Jaguars
Quite honestly, I believe that all of these teams have more "promise" than the Chiefs and Niners, but have somehow slipped, at least once. Green Bay just keeps finding ways to win, and even though the AFC South teams each took a tumble, they'll right the ship and charge hard into the Playoffs. Philadelphia is doing plenty well with a caretaker QB, and Miami is Miami: Brian Brown leading a killer supporting cast. Ho hum, another blowout win. Ho hum.
Very Solid, Need to See More
9. Atlanta Falcons
10. Washington Football Club
11. Las Vegas Raiders
I have lingering concerns about all of these teams, and almost all of it hinging around QB play. In the case of the Raiders...can their QB actually stay upright long enough to will his team to victory? I'd put the over-under at "most likely yes, dammit." Washington, while still capable of the occasional slip, sure looked good in beating DAL without Sam Hiller-Weeden. Very impressive.
Figuring Out How to be REALLY Dangerous
12. Buffalo Bills
13. Houston Texans
14. Dallas Cowboys
Hot Take of the day: I think one of these teams will win a Playoff game. Not exactly sure which one, but each have slowly started to put it together. Long-term success is still along way away, but young QBs learning how to step up and be killers is really fun to watch. HOU needed to step forward to make the AFCS a true bloodbath, but two wins in a row in-division is incredibly exciting.
One Step Forward, Two Steps Back
15. Carolina Panthers
16. New York Jets
17. Los Angeles Rams
18. Indianapolis Colts
19. Baltimore Ravens
The title of this bucket is a little misleading. The Ravens are honing in on a winning record, which in the AFC North is down-right shocking. The Rams have been essentially the most mediocre team in the League this season, but it's an improvement from the dreck of 2022. Carolina just can't seem to get out of their own way. Every time the JETS have a nice game, they turn around and puke up the following week. My question: do any of these teams have what it takes to mount a serious Playoff run?
Let's Get Real, Playoffs are Unlikely
20. Minnesota Vikings
21. Los Angeles Chargers of San Diego
22. Pittsburgh Steelers
23. New Orleans Saints
All of these teams have real players. And all of them have shown flashes of brilliance this season. But those flashes are increasingly few and far between. Only the Steelers have jumped into this group with a win recently. I think we're staring at 8 win ceilings for each of these squads...and that might be generous. That might be real generous.
Let's Get REALLY Real, Consider Rebuilding NOW
24. Denver Broncos
25. New England Patriots
26. Seattle Seahawks
27. Chicago Bears
Each of these franchises are going through some sort of rebuild at present, and that's to be expected. Only SEA has been to the Playoffs recently, and each team has the option to look at young QBs in new roles, though some are still not taking that option. What I appreciate about all of these teams is that they KNOW there are a couple of major hurdles in the return to prominence, and all are taking meaningful steps to get there. This is the year of experimentation--or should be--for this group. Let's see who uses this time wisely.
Plan A, Plan, B...Yes, We're Looking at Plan C
28. New York Giants
29. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
30. Cincinnati Bengals
31. Arizona Cardinals
32. Cleveland Browns
Take the write-up from the group above, remove a couple key elements per team, and you have this bottom-feeding group. SOME recognize the need for change. SOME have young QBs/players that need to, and are, receiving quality playing time, SOME are making meaningful steps to improvement. But not all, and not all are hitting each benchmark. The road to rebuilding is long and bumpy...the long and short of it is that these teams just have further to go.