Every week during the NFL season, Tiebreaker.com will present our conference power rankings. The AFC will be on Tuesday, the NFC on Wednesday.
This week in the AFC, the discussion about who should be the NFL’s MVP became a little more focused on one guy from Baltimore.
1). Baltimore Ravens
The Ravens dispatched the Texans with incredible ease. And that’s because they have the guy Las Vegas now rates as the favorite to win the MVP – Lamar Jackson. He threw four more touchdown passes in the 41-7 win, the Ravens sixth straight. Jackson’s 788 yards rushing are the most for a quarterback after 10 games in the Super Bowl era.
2). New England Patriots
Forget the fact the Patriots came out of their bye to beat the Eagles. That wasn’t enough to make Tom Brady smile. When you play in a game where a wide receiver – Julian Edelman – has more touchdown passes than you do, there is a reason for concern about your offense. The Pats have the Cowboys, Texans and Chiefs coming up and Brady has seven TDs and five interceptions in the last seven games.
3). Buffalo Bills
The big question with this team has always been about their offense. But on Sunday against the Dolphins, the Bills showed signs they can actually move the ball. Josh Allen threw for 256 yards and three touchdowns. He connected nine times with John Brown for 137 yards and two scores as Buffalo’s offense gained 424 yards. Can they stay strong and win a wild card? We will see.
4). Kansas City Chiefs
It’s clear by now this Chiefs team is much different than the 2018 version. Things aren’t coming quite as easily, points aren’t being racked up at a ferocious pace. They are a very good team, not an overpowering one. You want proof? Pat Mahomes threw for 63 yards in the first half – and a total of 182 -against the Chargers. But the big problem remains their defense, which allowed 312 yards in the first half.
5). Indianapolis Colts
The Colts ended their two-game winning streak by stomping all over the Jaguars with their running game, which accumulated 264 yards, the most the team had gained in one game since 2004. Each of those yards was needed since Jacoby Brissett complemented them with just 148 yards passing. The good news is Adam Vinatieri made all five of his kicks, including one field goal. The bad news is halfback Marlon Mack broke his hand. But we still like the Colts to win the AFC South.
6). Houston Texans
Let’s face it, they were embarrassed in Baltimore. The Texans were never in the game, flummoxed both defensively and offensively. Deshaun Watson was sacked seven times and Houston managed only 232 yards. Remember after the game when Watson and Jackson exchanged uniforms? Watson would have been happier switching teams. It was that bad.
7). Oakland Raiders
Jon Gruden has been smiling a lot lately. And he should be. The Raiders are 6-4 after their win over the Bungles and they are only one game behind the Chiefs in the AFC West. Once again, their rookies came to the forefront with Josh Jacobs (112 yards), Hunter Renfroe (66 receiving yards) and Maxx Crosby (four sacks) leading the effort.
8). Tennessee Titans
It’s worth repeating: The Titans have taken on a new and improved look since Ryan Tannehill took over as quarterback. He has eight TD passes in his first four starts and he is running the ball with just as much flair. All of a sudden, defenses can’t stop them when they reach the red zone. They come out of their bye 5-5. This is a team to watch. They can go either way.
9). Pittsburgh Steelers
We all by know what happened at the end of their game against the Browns last Thursday night. It was ugly and regrettable. But the Steelers have more to worry about now that its over. Quarterback Mason Rudolph has hit the wall and they may be without James Conner, JuJu Smith-Schuster and Diontae Johnson this week because of injuries suffered against the Browns.
10). Los Angeles Chargers
Can we finally admit Philip Rivers is done? It’s ironic that both he and Eli Manning have simultaneous reached the end after breaking in together. Rivers was the reason the Bolts lost to the Chiefs on Monday. He threw four more interceptions and now has 13 along with 15 turnovers this season. The guy is 38 and in the final year of his contract. It’s time to move on.
11). Cleveland Browns
We’ve had it with the Browns. They are a bunch of knuckleheads and their total lack of discipline flows from the top where rookie coach Freddie Kitchens continues to prove he’s overmatched. But here’s the thing: The Browns have won two straight and with games against Miami, Pittsburgh, Arizona and Cincinnati (twice) coming up, you can see them making a run into the playoffs.
12). Jacksonville Jaguars
You have to be happy for the Jaguars. They have their quarterback – Nick Foles – back and he threw for 296 yards and two TDs to DJ Chark against the Colts. But there’s nothing Foles can do to help their defense which continues to be battered on the ground. They gave up 264 against the Colts, 216 to the Texans, 285 to the Panthers. We sense a troubling trend.
13). Denver Broncos
The Broncos led the Vikings by 20 points at halftime – and lost. How rare is that? Well, they became the first team in five years to fall so deeply so quickly. Typical Broncos. They allowed only 47 yards in the first half and then were battered by Minnesota’s no-huddle offense in the second. We understand they’ve lost four times in the final minute. But that just tells us they aren’t good enough.
14). New York Jets
We appreciate Sam Darnold’s enthusiasm. After all that he’s gone through this season, two straight wins over the Dolphins and Redskins have proven to be a delicious tonic. Then again, we’re talking about the Dolphins and Redskins, not the Patriots and Ravens. Still, hats off to the Jets and their great safety, Jamal Adams, who picked up three sacks against the Redskins.
15). Miami Dolphins
Well, the Fish’s two-game winning streak is over. Nice while it lasted. The Bills were just too much for them at this stage of their development. They had only 23 yards rushing and their best moment was Jakeem Grant’s 101-yard kickoff return. Still, the worst news of the weekend was the season-ending injury to Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa. What are the Dolphins going to do now?
16). Cincinnati Bengals
Did anyone really think Ryan Finley was the answer at quarterback? He completed only 13 of 31 for 115 yards against the Raiders. That isn’t very inspiring. Now the Bungles are 0-10 for the first time in 26 seasons and headed straight for the No. 1 overall pick where LSU quarterback (and Ohio native) Joe Burrow is waiting. They need him. They need a lot of things.