As the 2018-19 NFL season is underway, certain franchises have stepped into the spotlight. As the weeks progress, here are the NFL Power Rankings, brought to you by The Athletes Hub:
1. New Orleans Saints (9-1) (-)
Over the course of the last 3 games, the New Orleans Saints have only been forced to punt the ball 4 times. Some called it crazy to call the Saints the “team to beat”, but after a few weeks of letting it sink in, it has evolved into the truth.
2. Los Angeles Rams (10-1) (-)
In one of the most historic regular season games of all time, the Los Angeles Rams showed enough grit on Monday to fight off the Kansas City Chiefs. Although the defense forced 5 turnovers, the biggest concern is what happens if an elite defense arises in the postseason.
3. Kansas City Chiefs (9-2) (-)
Could you really ask for a better performance from the Kansas City Chiefs’ offense? Patrick Mahomes was dialed in, but a few late turnovers sealed the deal. Prior to this game, teams that scored 50+ points held a record of 216-0.
4. New England Patriots (7-3) (-)
Many are degrading the play of the New England Patriots, but how much lower can we put them? Tom Brady and company underwent a bye week, and the team is expected to have Rob Gronkowski and Julian Edelman on Sunday against the New York Jets.
5. Pittsburgh Steelers (7-2-1) (+1)
The Pittsburgh Steelers continue to climb up the power rankings, and it comes as a surprise to no one. The offense is finally clicking, as a last-second rushing touchdown by Ben Roethlisberger catapulted the Steelers into the win column against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
6. Houston Texans (7-3) (+3)
For weeks now, I have been all in on the Houston Texans. After 7 consecutive victories, the race in the AFC is getting tighter than ever before. With a few “layup” games against the Tennessee Titans and Cleveland Browns over the next two weeks, Houston is in shape for a playoff slot.
7. Los Angeles Chargers (7-3) (-2)
Just as we were talking about the Los Angeles Chargers becoming an AFC powerhouse, they showed us why they can never be fully trusted. A last-second field goal by the Denver Broncos puts a dent into the long-term plan of securing a bye week down the road.
8. Chicago Bears (7-3) (+3)
Perhaps the most underrated franchise in the NFC, the Chicago Bears have displayed amazing performances on both sides of the ball. As long as Mitchell Trubisky can remain healthy, this division is the Bears’ to lose.
9. Carolina Panthers (6-4) (-2)
Instead of forcing the game into overtime against the Detroit Lions, the Panthers invested their efforts into a two-point conversion and failed. There is no telling whether Carolina is an elite contender, but based on the last two weeks, I would argue that they’re not.
10. Minnesota Vikings (5-4-1) (-2)
After the run game practically disappeared, the Minnesota Vikings lost a crucial game to the Chicago Bears on Sunday night. With Kirk Cousins continuing to play as a mediocre quarterback, it’s tough to call the Vikings a reliable playoff team.
11. Baltimore Ravens (5-5) (+3)
With a victory over the Cincinnati Bengals, the Baltimore Ravens are reassured that Lamar Jackson has potential as a starting quarterback. The headline is who will be under center against the Oakland Raiders, but a victory in Week 12 is manageable, regardless of who plays.
12. Indianapolis Colts (5-5) (+6)
I’m officially buying into the Indianapolis Colts, who have yet to allow a sack in 5 consecutive games. The race for Comeback Player of the Year is Andrew Luck’s to lose, and at this rate, the Colts make a strong Wild Card case.
13. Dallas Cowboys (5-5) (+3)
Two consecutive road victories place Dallas as the NFC East team to beat. As long as the ball can be consistently fed to Ezekiel Elliot, the Cowboys could find enough rhythm to surpass their colleagues for the division title.
14. Seattle Seahawks (5-5) (+7)
I’m not entirely sold on the Seattle Seahawks, but defeating the Green Bay Packers on Thursday night certainly helped their case. While there were a few controversial calls towards the home stretch, the Seahawks have a better chance at the playoffs than the Packers.
15. Green Bay Packers (4-5-1) (-5)
The Green Bay Packers are starting to spiral out of control, and even the play of Aaron Rodgers may not get them out of this hole. The NFC Wild Card is still up for grabs, but the Packers need serious adjustments in these last few weeks in order to get into the hunt.
16. Tennessee Titans (5-5) (-1)
Currently in the hunt for the AFC Wild Card, a headline to look out for will be whether the Titans can overcome the Houston Texans on Sunday. A win would skyrocket them in the power rankings, but a loss could put a “non-contender” label on the franchise.
17. Cincinnati Bengals (5-5) (-4)
The Cincinnati Bengals needed a victory over the Baltimore Ravens in order to create separation in the AFC Wild Card, but failed to do so. In result, the Bengals will have to hope the Cleveland Browns don’t come to life in Week 12.
18. Philadelphia Eagles (4-6) (-1)
After a blowout loss to the New Orleans Saints, this is certainly the rock-bottom point of the season for the Philadelphia Eagles. However, with the injury to Washington Redskins QB Alex Smith, the NFC East is up for grabs, and the Eagles are far from out of the playoff picture.
19. Detroit Lions (4-6) (+5)
A bonehead move by the Carolina Panthers on Sunday sought out a victory for the Detroit Lions. While the team is technically still in the playoff hunt, they are forced to face the Chicago Bears and Los Angeles Rams over the next two weeks.
20. Atlanta Falcons (4-6) (-1)
A loss to the Dallas Cowboys at home places the Atlanta Falcons on the brink of disappointment, as the offense only secured 1 touchdown all game. The defense has allowed 20+ points in 5 of their 6 losses this season.
21. Denver Broncos (4-6) (+2)
Defeating the Los Angeles Chargers on the road is a great sign for the Denver Broncos, but there is a long way to go. The Week 12 matchup against the Pittsburgh Steelers is a must-win game for this franchise.
22. Jacksonville Jaguars (3-7) (-2)
The season continues to be washed away for Jacksonville, as the team has lost 6 consecutive games. With rumors surrounding indirectly Jalen Ramsey requesting a trade, the off-season has more potential than the regular season for the Jaguars.
23. Washington Redskins (6-4) (-11)
After losing Alex Smith for the season, the team will now turn into veteran backup Colt McCoy. While the expectations and hopes are low, the Redskins can most likely slip away with the NFC East title at a minimal record of 9-7.
24. Miami Dolphins (5-5) (-2)
Although the Miami Dolphins underwent a bye week, the other AFC contenders all took home victories in Week 11. With the team in need of an identity change in 2019, the largest story will involve the future at the quarterback position.
25. Cleveland Browns (3-6-1) (-)
The Cleveland Browns are out of the playoff picture, but there is still some hope at the end of the tunnel. The last several weeks should be used to develop QB Baker Mayfield, and experiment with the running back position, where rookie Nick Chubb is currently viewed as the centerpiece.
26. New York Giants (3-7) (+2)
Be careful, because the New York Giants are catching a bit of steam. Although their last two wins have come from the San Francisco 49ers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, a victory over the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 12 puts them back into the NFC East picture.
27. Buffalo Bills (3-7) (+1)
Based on recent reports, the Buffalo Bills are expected to have QB Josh Allen in Week 12 against the Jacksonville Jaguars. There is no reason to invest in the Bills for the rest of the year, but some of the headlines this off-season will include the defense, which is ranked 19th in points allowed per game.
28. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-7) (-2)
Over the course of 11 weeks, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have switched quarterbacks 3 times already. With Jameis Winston named the starter this week, a loss could mean the final nail in his coffin with this particular franchise.
29. New York Jets (3-7) (-)
The coaching staff is doing the right thing by sidelining Sam Darnold, as there is no need to rush back the rookie at this point in the year. He has proven to show signs of promise, so hopefully the Jets can land a few pieces through the draft and free agency.
30. San Francisco 49ers (2-8) (+1)
Primed for a matchup against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, this is truly the 49ers last shot at victory over the next six weeks of action. It will be exciting to see what role Jimmy Garoppolo can play in 2019, and whether this team can compete with opposing franchises past this season.
31. Oakland Raiders (2-8) (+1)
After a heated exchange between Jon Gruden and Derek Carr, the Oakland Raiders put aside their differences and won on a game-winning field goal. This team gets raised by one slot for obvious holes on both sides of the ball.
32. Arizona Cardinals (2-8) (-2)
With Josh Rosen playing this poorly, there is concern about the state of the Arizona Cardinals. The only spotlight continues to be David Johnson, but losing to the Oakland Raiders on Sunday is a poor look for this franchise.
Featured Image: New York Times