It’s weeks like this that remind us of how unpredictable the NFL is. Nick Foles threw seven touchdown passes, the Jets beat the Saints, Tampa Bay nearly upset the Seahawks in Seattle, and the Bears won in Lambeau with their backup quarterback. As most teams head into the second half of their schedule, we’re left watching one of the most up-in-the-air NFL seasons in years.
1. Kansas City Chiefs SAME: Despite a lackluster offensive performance, the Chiefs got two defensive touchdowns to beat the Bills. Those are fluky, however, and we’ll see how they fair in Denver after their bye. Andy Reid is 13-1 after a bye.
2. Denver Broncos SAME: Denver had a bye week and are likely focused on getting head coach John Fox healthy. Their next four? At San Diego, Kansas City, at New England, at Kansas City.
3. Indianapolis Colts UP 2: Another game, another comeback for Andrew Luck and the Colts. Luck bailed out his pass defense in Houston. He’s clearly the best quarterback from his draft, no shocker there.
4. Seattle Seahawks DOWN 1: It’s inexcusable for Seattle to need overtime to beat the Bucs at home. This team is only going to go as far as Russell Wilson goes, and he still doesn’t have a viable receiving core to succeed with Percy Harvin not yet back.
5. New Orleans Saints DOWN 1: A crushing loss for the Saints, who were defeated by the Jets on the road and lost Darren Sproles to a concussion. With the state of the running game right now, this offense isn’t very dynamic.
6. San Francisco 49ers UP 2: The Niners had to have liked what they saw in Seattle on Sunday, despite the Seahawks’ win. San Francisco looks like the most consistent team in the NFC West right now.
7. New England Patriots Up 2: Tom Brady is finally back, throwing four scores and over 400 yards. With a healthy receiving core, the Patriots have returned to contender status.
8. Green Bay Packers DOWN 2: As if a home loss to the Bears wasn’t bad enough, Aaron Rodgers injured his shoulder and could miss some time, which would be a crushing blow to Green Bay’s title hopes.
9. Detroit Lions SAME: One key for the Lions to make the playoffs is finding a legit second receiver opposite Calvin Johnson. Kris Durham might be that guy.
10. Chicago Bears UP 3: Yes, Aaron Rodgers got hurt. But Josh McCown was quite impressive in Lambeau and the Bears’ defense turned in a vintage performance, keeping them in the race for the NFC North crown
11. Cincinnati Bengals DOWN 4: After riding high for quite some time, Andy Dalton came crashing back down to earth with three picks in Miami. It’s hard to take much out of Thursday night games, however, and the Bengals have complete control of their division.
12. Carolina Panthers SAME: The Panthers have now won four straight games by a combined score of 129-48. Cam Newton is as efficient and dynamic as ever, but it’s Ron Rivera’s new aggressive play calling style that has Carolina looking like a playoff team.
13. Dallas Cowboys DOWN 2: Tony Romo went from goat to hero after his game-winning touchdown against Minnesota. A mere 36 rushing yards is unacceptable at home against the lowly Vikings, and things are looking shaky for Dallas.
14. New York Jets UP 3: The up and down Jets are in pole position for the No. 6 seed in the AFC playoffs. The defense is stingy and Chris Ivory has breathed life into the running game, but until Geno Smith develops consistency, there will be skeptics.
15. Tennessee Titans UP 1: Chris Johnson was his vintage self, averaging 6.5 yards per carry and scoring two touchdowns, lifting a subpar Jake Locker and the Titans to a road win over the Rams. This team is in the hunt for the AFC’s last wild card spot.
16. Miami Dolphins UP 4: A safety in overtime snapped the Dolphins’ four-game losing streak. Still, by going over 150 passing yards and forcing three interceptions should have resulted in more than a two-point overtime win.
17. Washington Redskins UP 2: The running game beat the passing game in Washington. The Redskins’ 209 rushing yards and four rushing touchdowns beat out the Chargers’ 341 passing yards and two passing touchdowns. Washington is still very much alive in the NFC East.
18. Arizona Cardinals SAME: Arizona had a bye last week as they sit at .500 and in contention for a playoff spot. Expect that to change unless Carson Palmer has a career resurgence or Andre Ellington gets the starting running back job.
19. San Diego Chargers DOWN 4: The fact of the matter for the Chargers is that this team can’t get stops when they need to. Phillip Rivers is basically carrying this team right now. They host Denver next week, the start of their extremely grueling second half schedule.
20. Cleveland Browns UP 1: Jason Campbell tossed three touchdown passes and reinstalled hope in Cleveland. Campbell is much better than Brandon Weeden, and has the Browns still in the playoff hunt.
21. Baltimore Ravens DOWN 7: Something is seriously wrong with the champs. Joe Flacco has been no better than average and Ray Rice could only manage 17 yards on 11 carries. The offensive issues look like they’ll keep the Ravens out of the playoffs.
22. Philadelphia Eagles UP 4: No, your eyes were not deceiving you, that was Nick Foles throwing seven touchdown passes. Let’s be careful not to overreact (it was against the Raiders) but also give credit to Foles for a legendary performance.
23. Houston Texans UP 3: Case Keenum throwing bombs to Andre Johnson gave the Texans hope, but head coach Gary Kubiak collapsing on the field was a scary moment. Keenum looks to having the starting QB job for the foreseeable future.
24. Buffalo Bills SAME: Despite the loss, there is optimism in Buffalo. C. J. Spiller looked like his old self against the Chiefs, while E. J. Manuel may return next week in Pittsburgh.
25. New York Giants UP 2: The Giants probably don’t deserve to move up two spots after a bye, but with so many terrible teams on display, we forget about the New York’s ugliness for a week.
26. Atlanta Falcons DOWN 3: Sure, it wasn’t an easy road game in Carolina, but a 24-point loss is ugly. Matt Ryan can only do so much, but this team is toast.
27. Oakland Raiders DOWN 5: As if it wasn’t enough to be embarrassed at home by Nick Foles, Terrelle Pryor and Darren McFadden suffered injuries. The two brightest spots of this team now look dim.
28. St. Louis Rams SAME: Zac Stacy continued his breakout with 127 rushing yards and two touchdowns in another impressive performance. Maybe if him and Sam Bradford were both healthy and starting at the same time, this team might have had a shot.
29. Minnesota Vikings UP 1: Adrian Peterson’s 140 yards were a valiant effort against the Cowboys, but it wasn’t good enough. Despite a less than stellar performance, Christian Ponder is the best quarterback this team has to offer.
30. Tampa Bay Buccaneers UP 1: Mike Glennon was making play after play and Mike James put up 158 yards on the ground. All of this happened in Seattle, but it was still not enough for the now 0-8 Bucs to get their first win.
31. Pittsburgh Steelers DOWN 2: The crushing defeat at the hands of the Patriots provided some frightening numbers for the crumbling Steelers’ defense: they allowed 610 yards and seven touchdowns, both mind-boggling numbers.
32. Jacksonville Jaguars SAME: This was the first week all year that the Jaguars didn’t lose! Of course, it’s because they were on their bye. They’re still on track for 0-16 and Teddy Bridgewater.