Every week during the NFL season, Tiebreaker.com will present our conference power rankings. The AFC will be on Tuesday, the NFC on Wednesday.
We begin in the AFC by wondering if it is really fair that the Jets and Dolphins have to play in the AFC East against Tom Brady.
1). New England Patriots
Here is why the Patriots are the Patriots: Tom Brady is now third all-time in passing yardage with 71,923. He’s just 19 yards away from passing Peyton Manning into second after throwing for 348 yards and three touchdowns against the Redskins on Sunday. Any questions?
2). Kansas City Chiefs
Be honest, you really didn’t expect the Chiefs to be totally disarmed by the defense of the Indianapolis Colts. But maybe this is a good thing, an opportunity to regroup. Nevertheless, their 13 points were the fewest in the Mahomes era. He was 12-of-15 for 130 yards in the first quarter, but just 10-of-24 for 158 in the final three.
3). Buffalo Bills
The Bills already have more road wins (three) than they did during the 2018 season. They beat the Titans despite many injuries and 11 penalties. Their defense collected five sacks and held an offense under 160 yards passing for the second time this season.
4). Houston Texans
There is a benefit to keeping Deshaun Watson on his feet. After being dropped 18 times in the first four weeks, he was not sacked on Sunday by the Falcons and was able to complete 28-of-33 for 426 yards and five touchdowns. How happy is Will Fuller? He caught 14 passes for 217 yards and three TDs.
5). Indianapolis Colts
The Colts have a lot of reasons to feel proud. With the help of defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus, they held the Chiefs to 324 yards, 150 below their average. What helped make that possible was a ground attack that allowed the Colts to control the ball 15 minutes more than the Chiefs. Send your thanks to Marlon Mack (29 carries, 132 yards).
6). Baltimore Ravens
Did you know placekicker Justin Tucker is an opera singer? He certainly hit all the highs notes on Sunday against the Steelers by making a 46-yard field goal at the gun for the win. Tucker in the NFL’s most accurate kicker of all-time (247-of-273). One thing to keep an eye on: Lamar Jackson has thrown five interceptions in the last two games.
7). Los Angeles Chargers
Melvin Gordon’s holdout was designed to show the Chargers how much they would miss him. We did not see any evidence of that on Sunday. He gained only 31 yards on 12 carries. In fact, it was the first time in 56 games that he did not account for at least one first down. And keep in mind the Broncos came into the game allowing an average of 149.2 yards on the ground.
8). Cleveland Browns
Can we just agree that Baker Mayfield in an immature idiot? He actually refused to shake hands with San Francisco’s captains at midfield during the pregame coin toss. You don’t think that fired up Richard Sherman? The end product for Mayfield was a horrible night, 8-of-20 for 100 yards, one lost fumble and two interceptions. Grow up, dude.
9). Oakland Raiders
The Raiders turned in big plays on defense, despite injuries that kept guys like Clelin Ferrell out and suspension that cost them Vontaze Burfict. They also beat the Bears because their running game breezed along. Josh Jacobs gained 123 yards on 26 carries and scored two TDs. And how about the 97-yard drive that capped the game? It was Oakland’s longest go-ahead drive in 20 seasons.
10). Tennessee Titans
On Sunday, there were many conciliatory words for kicker Cairo Santos who missed three field goals and had a fourth one blocked. On Monday, the Titans cut him. But he wasn’t the only reason they lost to the Bills. Marcus Mariota was sacked five times and his offense generated only 252 yards.
11). Jacksonville Jaguars
The Jags allowed 285 yards rushing in their loss to the Panthers after allowing an average of only 99.5 per game coming in. What’s up with that? Of course, we know the reason. Christian McCaffrey is the most talented back in the NFL. Jacksonville’s vaunted secondary couldn’t catch him on his 84-yard TD run.
12). Denver Broncos
Congratulations to coach Vic Fangio on his first NFL win. They jumped right down the Chargers throats by scoring points on their first three possessions. Fangio was hired because of his defensive acumen and the Broncos showed it on the final play of the first half when safety Kareem Jackson stopped Austin Ekeler on the Denver 1.
13). Pittsburgh Steelers
Thank goodness QB Mason Rudolph appears to be OK after being knocked out on a helmet-to-helmet hit from Baltimore’s Earl Thomas. He was back in the locker room on Monday with a smile on his face. The problem now is what to do if Devlin Hodges needs to run the team for a few weeks. He completed 7-of-9 for 68 yards in his debut.
14). Cincinnati Bengals
The Bengals have lost to previously winless teams in each of the last two weeks, first the Steelers and now the Cardinals. We expected more from the team after it hired Zac Taylor off the staff of the NFC champion Rams. But its been more of the same. The Cardinals allowed Andy Dalton to throw for only 22 yards in the first half.
15). New York Jets
A horror show. Third-string QB Luke Falk played to a 1.9 quarterback rating as the Jets fell to 0-4 for the first time since 2003. It’s not going to get any better with Dallas and New England coming up next. Falk was sacked 10 times by the Eagles. If not for Vyncint Smith’s 19-yard score on a razzle-dazzle reverse, the Jets would have been shut out.
16). Miami Dolphins
Here’s something to look forward to: The Dolphins play the winless Redskins at home this week and they will play the Jets on Nov. 3. What else can you say about a team that’s been outscored 163-26. But remember, they will have three first-round picks in 2020 and about $100 million in salary cap space.