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, it’s going to be a long time before anyone forgets how dominating the Ravens were on Monday Night Football against the Rams.
1). Baltimore Ravens
It was one of the greatest team and individual performances in the history of Monday Night Football. The Ravens 45-6 win over the Rams leaves no doubt who the best team in the NFL is right now. Baltimore scored touchdowns on their first six drives, gained 285 yards rushing and was led by the marvelous Lamar Jackson, who threw five touchdown passes and gained 95 yards rushing in just three quarters. Man, that was fun to watch.
2). New England Patriots
The defense continues to excel. That was clear watching the Patriots secondary shut down the Cowboys’ Amari Cooper. Special teams continue to be great. That was obvious as Matthew Slater made the day’s big play by blocking a punt in the first quarter. But the offense is generally a mess and you wonder how long its going to be before it costs the Patriots in a big spot.
3). Houston Texans
As the Texans move forward to a likely division title, its time to remind everyone of how potentially lethal their vertical passing attack is. No team in the league has the combination of three receivers like Will Fuller, Kenny Stills and DeAndre Hopkins and a quarterback, Deshaun Watson, who can deliver the ball. They’re not winning the Super Bowl, but they can put a scare into someone.
4). Kansas City Chiefs
The Chiefs come off their bye with a big game this weekend against the Raiders that should go a long way to decide the AFC West. If Kansas City wins, it will have swept the Raiders to grab hold of the wild card. Thing is, the offense didn’t look so hot against the Chargers in Mexico City. If it wasn’t for their four interceptions, they could have lost that game.
5). Buffalo Bills
The Bills are 8-3 for the first time since 1996 – when Jim Kelly was still their quarterback. They earned that distinction by totally shutting down the Broncos, holding them to 134 yards, nine first downs and forcing eight punts. On offense, Josh Allen is doing enough to succeed, thanks in part to a ground game that cranked out 244 yards.
6). Indianapolis Colts
The Colts seemed a little out of balance in their loss to the Texans last Thursday. They rushed for 175 yards, but Jeremy Brissett threw for a season-low 129 yards, which really limited what they were able to accomplish. Surprisingly, the normally reliable T.J. Hilton even dropped two passes, prompting him to take the blame for the defeat. They have a big game against the Titans this week.
7). Tennessee Titans
Its been a long time since anyone saw a team score four touchdowns in just 6:09, but that’s what the Titans did last Sunday against the Jaguars. Tennessee is now 4-1 since Ryan Tannehill became their quarterback. What’s more, they are averaging 13.1 more points and 93.9 more yards per game. After starting the season languishing behind Marcus Mariota, he’ll now likely be one of the league’s prized free agents.
8). Oakland Raiders
Raise your hand if you saw a 34-3 loss to the Jets coming. Didn’t think so. The Raiders got their ass kicked in every conceivable way, costing them an important win in their race with the Chiefs. They put no pressure on the quarterback, did nothing on the ground. Things were so bad, Jon Gruden took Derek Carr out of the game in the third quarter. It’s best they just wash and rinse.
9). Cleveland Browns
Just remember, it came against the Dolphins, but the Browns looked full of vigor winning their third straight game. Most impressive was their passing attack. Baker Mayfield threw three touchdown passes. One was to Odell Beckham, Jr. That was his first touchdown in eight games. That helped the Browns score four touchdowns in the first half for the first time since 1999. Who knows, maybe they will win the division after all.
10). Pittsburgh Steelers
It wasn’t the best week for quarterback Mason Rudolph, was it? First, the NFL fined him $50,000 for his part in the game-ending melee with the Browns. And then on Sunday, his coach benched him after the first series of the second half because of ineffectiveness. Duck Hodges immediately threw a 79-yard touchdown pass and it looks like he’ll start Sunday against the Browns.
11). New York Jets
It’s been quite the renaissance for the Jets. They’ve won three straight to silence – for now – the critics calling for the firing of coach Adam Gase after the 1-7 start. After scoring 96 points in their first eight games, the Jets have rung up 102 during the winning streak. Sam Darnold has seven touchdown passes during the winning streak. And the Jets have allowed only 145 yards rushing.
12). Los Angeles Chargers
There is a crisis of confidence surrounding veteran quarterback Philip Rivers, who tossed four interceptions against the Chiefs, including the last agonizing one in the end zone with 18 seconds to play. Not since Erik Kramer in 1999 has a Chargers quarterback thrown at least three interceptions in two straight game. This weekend’s game against the vulnerable Broncos might be the most important one Rivers has played in years.
13). Jacksonville Jaguars
After three straight blowout losses, there’s been some discussion about benching quarterback Nick Foles and putting Gardner Minshew back in the mix. After all, the Jags have been outscored 75-33 since Foles returned. But that would be terribly short-sighted and do nothing to solve the bigger problem. Jacksonville can not stop the run. The Titans put up another 219 on the ground.
14). Denver Broncos
Those fans who were clamoring for Joe Flacco to benched, aren’t so sure anymore. Listen, Brandon Allen isn’t Tom Brady, but the kid hadn’t thrown an interception in 172 attempts until Sunday. It’s just that the offense isn’t going anywhere with him. We saw an interesting stat after the loss to Buffalo: Denver went three-and-out on their final five drives, gaining only two net yards on 15 plays. That’s 4.8 inches per play.
15). Miami Dolphins
Things are back to normal in Miami after its up-tick got everyone pumped. Did you know the Dolphins are averaging only 63.2 yards rushing this season? That’s the worst output in the league since the 1946 Lions averaged 42.5. One more history lesson: Kalen Ballage is averaging 1.9 yards on his 71 carries. It’s been 66 years since an NFL back with at least 70 carries has averaged fewer than 2.0 yards.
16). Cincinnati Bengals
The Bungles are 0-11 for the first time in franchise history and their 13-game losing streak is their longest. Apparently, the organization has no interest in going 0-16 because it announced this week the reinstatement of Andy Dalton at quarterback, thereby ending Ryan Finley’s candidacy as their quarterback of the future. Finley completed only 47.1 percent of his passes in his three games as a starter. What a mess.