Week 7 in the NFL was a good gut-check before the second half of the season. There were some tough road tests for contenders in both the NFC and the AFC, and going into Week 8, that leaves only undefeated team, the Steelers.
There’s a clear separation between the elite teams vying to get to Super Bowl 55 and those bottom-feeding teams hoping to scratch to get to .500 at some point in December. Then there are some teams in the muddled middle who wear masks, a trick one week and a treat the next week.
Rolling into Halloween, here’s how all 32 NFL teams stack up against each other in Sporting News’ latest power rankings:
NFL MOCK DRAFT 2021:
Giants pass on Justin Fields; Saints find next QB; Packers, Lions, Bears go WR
NFL power rankings
1. Kansas City Chiefs 6-1 (last week: 3)
The Chiefs flexed their defensive and special teams big-play ability and ran even better with Le’Veon Bell considering the tough weather in Denver. When Patrick Mahomes wins with an easy day at the office, that makes them such strong favorites to repeat.
2. Pittsburgh Steelers 6-0 (2)
The Steelers have racked up a few style points along with their many regular points in their best start since 1978, or when they were in the middle of their first Super Bowl dynasty. The defense has been the backbone for Pittsburgh, but it’s been really about playing the right complementary football to win games, close and not.
IYER: Roethlisberger, Steelers far from perfect foils to Mahomes, Chiefs
3. Seattle Seahawks 5-1 (1)
The Seahawks’ defensive woes and making everything a close game finally caught up to them in falling to the Cardinals in the road in overtime after holding a 10-point halftime lead. Russell Wilson is the MVP, but even when he’s brilliant he can be off in key spots and needs help from the running game and defense. He’s not perfect and now neither is Seattle.
4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers 5-2 (7)
The Buccaneers are spreading the ball around offensively, running effectively when needed and moving the ball methodically for better scoring results with Tom Brady. Defensively, they keep shutting down the run and limit big plays in the passing game. They’re making fewer mistakes all of a sudden, too. Yes, Brady’s Bucs are playing more like the Patriots than the Patriots are.
MORE: Bruce Arians says Antonio Brown signing was his decision, not Brady’s
5. Green Bay Packers 5-1 (6)
The Packers were down Aaron Jones but still didn’t lose too much of a beat running all over the Texans’ defense. Aaron Rodgers used Houston as a get-well game as expected and the big development was getting Davante Adams going as a healthy, dominant receiver again. A pleasant surprise was the defense vs. Deshaun Watson.
6. Baltimore Ravens 5-1 (5)
The Ravens enjoyed a bye ahead of facing the Steelers in a monumental Week 8 game that will gp a long way in determining who wins the AFC North. The Browns are lingering, but both teams have routed them, making the division a two-team race. The key for the Ravens is traditionally running and Lamar Jackson passing better out of the break.
7. Tennessee Titans 5-1 (4)
The Titans’ defense is hard to figure out. It’s based on making big plays and takeaways and is inconsistent against the run. It’s also not built to slow down passing games much with a shaky secondary. The offense is well defined with Ryan Tannehill and Derrick Henry, but the identity crisis on the other side of the ball can be frustrating.
8. New Orleans Saints 4-2 (9)
The Saints’ defense didn’t look all that much better against the pass coming out of the bye, which is concerning. The offense is also still in grind mode without Michael Thomas, which is actually working well with Alvin Kamara and Latavius Murray to ease the burden of Drew Brees and the defense.
9. Buffalo Bills 5-2 (8)
The Bills didn’t look all that great against the Jets, desperately needing to get back on track after being ripped by the Titans and the Chiefs. The offense has gone from unstoppable with Josh Allen to one still figuring out how to run the ball and streamline the passing game. At least the defense bounced back and the special teams, led by rookie kicker Tyler Bass, came through when needed.
10. Arizona Cardinals 5-2 (16)
The Cardinals now have two huge division wins over the Seahawks and 49ers. Their defense, led by Budda Baker, is starting to make timely impact plays. Their offense, with Kyler Murray in complete control, seems to get more dangerous with every week. Kliff Kingsbury for coach of the year?
MORE: Murray says Seahawks win was ‘huge’ next step
11. San Francisco 49ers 4-3 (12)
The 49ers deserve a ton of credit for putting things together offensively with the return of a healthy Jimmy Garoppolo the past two weeks. He’s in lockstep with Deebo Samuel, George Kittle and Brandon Aiyuk all working with him at the same time and the running game gets it done because of scheme and next man up, too. They were in position to wilt two weeks ago but are showing the heart of an NFC champion.
12. Los Angeles Rams 4-2 (11)
The Rams being the fourth-best team in the division? It’s possible, showing just how great the NFC West is. They’re doing it more with defense and a running game. At some point, Jared Goff has to come through better vs. Murray and Wilson than he did against Jimmy G.
13. Chicago Bears 5-1 (10)
The Bears’ only blemish was an ugly one-possession home loss to the Colts in Week 4. Their defense, especially against the pass, has really picked it up of late and they’ve found more in the running game with David Montgomery. Nick Foles has to play better, however, to take them more seriously as NFC title contenders.
14. Cleveland Browns 5-2 (13)
The Browns looked like they would be burned with Baker Mayfield again, but then something weird happened. Odell Beckham Jr. went down with a knee injury and Mayfield suddenly caught fire, looking like the promising rookie operating without OBJ. Don’t sleep on that being the third-year breakthrough he needed, outdueling long-time future rival Joe Burrow.
MORE: Odell Beckham Jr. injury update
15. Indianapolis Colts 4-2 (15)
The Colts enjoyed their bye having more confidence in Philip Rivers and a chance to get healed up offensively on the line, at wide receiver and at tight end. It also would be nice to have linebacker leader Darius Leonard healthy, too. They get the Lions in Detroit before their shot at the Ravens at home.
16. Las Vegas Raiders 3-3 (14)
The Raiders need to get the running game going with Josh Jacobs to protect their defense. Derek Carr is playing very well and delivering to all of his key targets, now led by Nelson Agholor and Darren Waller. But it’s not the best complementary football with their run and pass defense interchangeably struggling.
17. Miami Dolphins 3-3 (17)
The Dolphins will be starting Tua Tagovailoa coming out of their bye, leaving questions about whether Ryan Fitzpatrick, a willing leader and mentor, might be traded to a ninth team before Tuesday. But Tagovailoa could use the support system and confidence building for the second half, especially for starting his first game against the Rams.
18. Detroit Lions 3-3 (22)
The Lions are doing their best to play better for Matt Patricia. They’ve hit the right note in their offense with Matthew Stafford and D’Andre Swift — just in time for a comeback win back in Georgia. The defense is showing signs of responding, too, for two straight weeks.
19. Philadelphia Eagles 2-4-1 (23)
The Eagles are slowly finding themselves in the NFL’s weakest division. It hasn’t been easy because of their mounting injuries, but Carson Wentz has raised his game and the defense is coming alive a little more.
20. Carolina Panthers 3-4 (18)
The Panthers’ offense is doing fine with Teddy Bridgewater, but they are feeling the effects of not having Christian McCaffrey’s game-changing ability of late. They need all the offense they can get with critical defensive holes.
21. Los Angeles Chargers 2-4 (26)
The Chargers finally got on the board with a victory for rookie Justin Herbert. He is showing the same type of confidence in his arm, legs and weapons that Mahomes did right out of the gate as the Chiefs’ starting QB.
22. Denver Broncos 2-4 (20)
The Broncos can continue to have more doubts about whether Drew Lock is the franchise QB. When they’re not running the ball, without Courltand Sutton, the passing just looks sloppy.
23. New England Patriots 2-4 (21)
The Patriots in the bottom 10 of the NFL without Brady? Cue up the tank for Trevor Lawrence conspiracy theories here. Bill Belichick the coach is still doing the best job he can, but he’s been let down big-time by Bill Belichick the general manager with this limited offensive talent and shaky QB situation.
24. Washington Football Team 2-5 (30)
WFT made the right call in going to Kyle Allen over Dwayne Haskins, who is both playing and not playing himself out of Ron Rivera’s team. The offense seems more organized and the defense is now in better position to support it.
25. Dallas Cowboys 2-4 (19)
This season is more WTF for them after another lifeless performance capped by Andy Dalton going down with a scary injury. Jerry Jones really needs to re-examine the culture of his team with Mike McCarthy, because the vibes are not good.
MORE: Dalton injury update | Other options for Cowboys at QB?
26. Cincinnati Bengals 1-5-1 (25)
Holy Joe Burrow. He’s just getting warmed up as an elite playmaker in this league for years to come. Imagine if he had a little better pass protection and a decent defense.
27. Minnesota Vikings 1-5 (24)
The Vikings needed a bye to regroup defensively and get Dalvin Cook back healthy. Kirk Cousins should also clean up some things. They face a stretch of three must-win division games, starting against the Packers in Green Bay.
28. Atlanta Falcons 1-6 (27)
The Falcons thought scoring to put a game away would keep them from blowing leads? Think again. That’s how bad their defense is, taking away from all the offensive highs they have had with Todd Gurley, Matt Ryan, Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley.
29. New York Giants 1-6 (28)
Joe Judge needs to his team to better execute the little things needed to win games. There’s more promise for Daniel Jones and the offense now and the defense has been playing better than expected in many areas. Now it’s about coaching to put it all together.
30. Houston Texans 1-6 (29)
The Texans have Watson running around trying to make whatever plays are needed but the defense won’t cooperate to take the burden from him. An overhaul is needed and the draft picks aren’t there for an immediate big turnaround.
31. Jacksonville Jaguars 1-6 (31)
The Jaguars also could use of some those same defensive improvements as the Texans. The rub is they also probably need to look for a franchise replacement for Gardner Minshew with their two first-rounders, too.
32. New York Jets 0-7 (32)
The Jets showed some signs of life with the return of Sam Darnold and scrappier defense. Despite that, it’s the same old same old for Adam Gage.