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, twe salute the Baltimore Ravens for figuring out how to knock the Patriots from the peak.
1). Baltimore Ravens
You couldn’t have asked more from the Ravens last Sunday night. They dominated the world champion Patriots in one of the most highly anticipated games of the season. The NFL leader in points and rushing yards did things to the Patriots defense no one had before this season. They deserve our top ranking.
2). New England Patriots
Everyone is entitled to a bad day. No one should have expected the Patriots to go undefeated again. Their defense had allowed only four touchdowns previous to Sunday and then allowed four to the Ravens. Hey, it happens. Now Bill Belichick has some talking points as the team heads into its bye week.
3). Houston Texans
The Texans had little trouble jettisoning the Jaguars in London. Playing for the first time without J.J. Watt, their defense came up with four sacks and generally made Jacksonville quarterback Gardner Minshew look disorganized. Next up is a trip to Baltimore and then home games against the Patriots and Colts which should go a long way in determining whether they can win the AFC South.
4). Kansas City Chiefs
Did you see Pat Mahomes in the moments following Harrison Butker’s game-winning 44-yard field goal against the Vikings? He was jumping up and down and all around in celebration. He didn’t look like a guy with a sore knee. He’ll be back before we know it. Until then, the Chiefs can do a lot worse than Matt Moore (25-of-35, 275 yards, one touchdown pass).
5). Buffalo Bills
We still have strong reservations about the Bills offense scoring enough to win a postseason game against Baltimore or Kansas City. But they played well enough last week to beat the Redskins to go 6-2 for the first time since 1993. Third-round pick Devin Singletary had a nice day with 140 yards on 24 touches.
6). Indianapolis Colts
It wasn’t the best of days for the Colts against the Steelers. First, Jacoby Brissett suffered a sprained left knee, leaving the bulk of the game operation to veteran Brian Hoyer, who was just OK. Then on the final play of the game, a bad “laces out” hold contributed to Adam Vinatieri’s shanked 43-yarder.
7). Oakland Raiders
The Raiders beat the Lions in their first home game since Sept. 15, but not until safety Karl Joseph broke up a last-ditch effort from Matthew Stafford in the end zone. Oakland’s defense still leaves a lot to be desired, allowing over 400 yards passing. But they do have one of the league’s most entertaining rookies in halfback Josh Jacobs, who has gained at least 100 yards rushing in three of the last four weeks.
8). Los Angeles Chargers
After so much disappointment, the Chargers finally gave their fans – all 23,000 of them in their makeshift home stadium – something to feel really good about. They shut down Aaron Rodgers! And after firing their offensive coordinator, a rushing attack that had gained less than 40 yards in each of the last four weeks banged out 139.
9). Pittsburgh Steelers
Even though they defeated the Colts last week, we still have serious concerns about the Steelers and quarterback Mason Rudolph. Pittsburgh won because their defense was superior, picking up five sacks, holding Marlon Mack back and scoring a touchdown on a 96-yard interception from Minkah Fitzpatrick in the second quarter.
10). Jacksonville Jaguars
We’d like to thank Gardner Minshew for his service to the team since Nick Foles injured his collarbone in Week 1. He’s been fun to watch and pretty productive. But now that Foles is ready to return, Minshew likely will be headed back to the bench once the season resumes on Nov. 17 against the Steelers.
11). Tennessee Titans
It’s no big sin that the Titans let Christian McCaffrey run them over last week. The Panthers running back has made a habit of that this season. But our big problem remains their inconsistent offense. Its been better since Ryan Tannehill took over, but can someone explain how a guy as talented as Derrick Henry touches the ball only two times in the first half?
12). Denver Broncos
Imagine how much trouble the Broncos would be this week had they allowed the Browns to beat them at home. They did just enough to win with Brandon Allen making his first start in place of the injured Joe Flacco. Allen hit Noah Fant on a nice 75-yard catch-and-run – during which he broke three tackles – and later connected with Courtland Sutton on a 21-yard score.
13). Cleveland Browns
It’s not just about football anymore with these guys. The organization is a clown show. Once again, Odell Beckham (and Jarvis Landry) got into trouble with the NFL for being out of uniform by wearing non-authorized cleats in the first half. Then there’s Freddie Kitchens erratic coaching and the release of safety Jermaine Whitehead after the game for making threats on Twitter. It never ends in Cleveland.
14). Miami Dolphins
There seems to be a misunderstanding about the Dolphins. Many people believe they are tanking the season in order to maximize their 2020 draft status. We beg to differ. This team might not be good, but it plays with a lot of passion and on Sunday it ended a 10-game organizational losing streak by beating the Jets for their first win of the season. Good for the fish!
15). New York Jets
The Jets are embarrassing – and we don’t care that coach Adam Gase does not agree with us. It’s clear Sam Darnold has steadily regressed since New York’s win over Dallas on Oct. 13. He’s playing like he’s scared. The Jets are 1-7 for the first time since 2014 when they finished 4-12. They will be lucky to win four games this season. They stink.
16). Cincinnati Bengals
The Bungles spent the week getting rookie quarterback Ryan Finley to make his debut as a starter in place of Andy Dalton, who is second in franchise history in passing yardage. Cincinnati needs to find out if Finley is the guy who can move them forward. If not, it might be in a position to take a quarterback in the first round for the first time since selecting Carson Palmer first overall in 2003.