- Arizona Cardinals (8-1)
Last Week: 3
The Cards somehow won a road game without their starting quarterback and biggest offensive weapon. Both Murray and Hopkins are question marks for this week. The Cardinals will need them back as it’s unlikely that they can duplicate Sunday’s success over the long term. If additional rest means a loss now to ensure the health of their two best offensive players, it’s well worth it.
- Green Bay Packers (7-2)
Last Week: 3
The Packers moved up a spot off a loss. Weird, but that is the kind of week we just had in the NFL. It’s hard to predict what Aaron Rodgers availability will be given his positive Covid test and the possibility of discipline from the league. The number two spot in the rankings assumes he will be on the field for most of the Pack’s remaining games.
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-2)
Last Week: 4
Tampa had a nice bye week with both the Rams and Packers sliding back to them in the standings. Tampa boasts the league’s third-ranked scoring differential despite not having played as many games as several teams.
- Los Angeles Rams (7-2)
Last Week: 1
The Rams lost to the Derrick Henry-less Titans Sunday night in their own building. The Rams allowed only 69 yards rushing and 194 total yards, but they shot themselves in the foot enough to drop a very winnable game. They now go on the road for two straight including a game in Green Bay.
- Tennessee Titans (7-2)
Last Week: 7
The Titans served notice that their season, despite the loss of Derrick Henry, is most definitely not over. The offense was far from prolific without the league’s leading rusher, but a win on the road against a top-tier opponent requires no apologies. The long-term success of the Titan season hinges on someone stepping up to approximate what Henry provided each week.
- Dallas Cowboys (6-2)
Last Week: 5
It’s hard to understand what happened to the Cowboys on Sunday. The Broncos pedestrian offense ran over the home team and Denver’s defense dominated the game. It will be distressing if Dallas doesn’t bounce back this week at home against the Falcons. If they struggle against Atlanta, failure against Denver can no longer be brushed off as a blip on the schedule.
- Baltimore Ravens (6-2)
Last Week: 8
The Ravens escaped against now 3-5 Minnesota Sunday. Baltimore has scored just 26 more points than their opponents thus far. It’s time the Ravens take a step forward and separate themselves from the pack.
- Pittsburgh Steelers (5-3)
Last Week: Unranked
The Steelers have quietly run off four straight wins to slot themselves within a game of the division lead. The Steelers will need to be more than steady after Sunday. They face just one losing team over the rest of the regular season.
- Buffalo Bills (5-3)
Last Week: 6
The Bills should have had little trouble with the Jags on Sunday. The horrific loss puts them just one game in front of the Patriots in the lowly AFC East. They get a similar test this week at the Jets. It will be beyond disappointing if we don’t see a much different Buffalo team on the field in the Meadowlands.
- Cleveland Browns (5-4)
Last Week: Unranked
The Browns had a statement win Sunday against Cincinnati. They have another chance to push themselves into the first tier of AFC teams this Sunday against the Patriots. The running game is usually a solid means of maintaining consistency. The Browns are up and down despite one of the league’s best ground games. The calendar says it’s time for true contenders to step forward. We’ll see if Cleveland is up to the task.