NFL Power Rankings: Week 7


Sports Desk


The Appalachian Sports Desk will be releasing collaborative weekly NFL Power Rankings. The Appalachian sports reporters will be ranking NFL teams that will be averaged out to determine their rankings. Each writer will cover 2-3 teams and give their take on them.

This weeks biggest riser: Dallas Cowboys and New Orleans Saints moved up 8

This weeks biggest drop: Carolina Panthers moved down 12


1. Philadelphia Eagles (6-1) (Last week: 4↔️)

With their win over the Washington Redskins on Monday night, the Eagles have cemented that this season was no fluke. They didn’t skate with away a couple wins they didn’t deserve, the Birds earned their wins right alongside a 96 percent chance to make the playoffs. Carson Wentz is playing like a seasoned veteran, their defense keeps quarterbacks awake at night and this is still the regular season. Philadelphia played a hard fought four quarters, withstanding a 15-minute scoreless drought and a handful of injuries, the gravity of which we are not yet aware of. Wentz passed for over 250 yards and three TDs, Jake Elliott booted another 50-yard screamer into the uprights to set a franchise record and Malcolm Jenkins even posted 10 tackles and a sack to boot. If I were the 49ers, I do not look forward to playing this steam train of a football team next week, especially since it appears to have no notion of slowing down.  -Garrett Wold

2. New England Patriots (5-2) (Last week: 4⬆️)

The Patriots are starting to roll and the rest of the NFL should be on notice. Patriots’ star tight end Rob Gronkowski is starting to put the team on his back as he is continuing to cause a nightmare matchup for opposing defenders. The offensive line did an excellent job protecting Tom Brady giving him plenty of time to pick apart the Falcons defense. The game was the rematch of Super Bowl 51 where the Patriots came back being down by 25 points. After this game, one thing is clear: only one team is showing that they want to get back to the Super Bowl.  -Michael Pigg

3. Kansas City Chiefs (5-2) (Last week: 2⬇️)

Kansas City has lost two games in a row, suffering a bitter defeat to their division rivals, the Oakland Raiders. Getting shredded for 417 yards through the air, Oakland quarterback Derek Carr picked apart the revered Chiefs’ secondary. While the defense struggled, Kansas City’s offense continued to impress, popping off big pass plays with connections from Alex Smith to wideouts Tyreek Hill and Albert Wilson. The Raiders entered Thursday night’s matchup with only two wins, but they are much more competitive with a healthy Derek Carr under center. Combined with some questionable calls in the game’s final moments, the Chiefs played about as even of a game as possible on the road in the “Black Hole.” Moving on to a Monday Night Football matchup against the Denver Broncos, the Chiefs look to get back on track against a struggling Denver team. -Tyler Hotz

4. Pittsburgh Steelers (5-2) (Last week: 5⬆️)

Tied at 14-14 midway through the second quarter, Pittsburgh and Cincinnati were deadlocked in a back-and-forth scoring battle. After allowing Bengals’ tight end Tyler Kroft’s 1-yard score in the second quarter, the Steelers stifled Cincinnati for the remainder of the game, outscoring them 15-0. Trusting the leg of Chris Boswell, the Steelers saw their kicker nail all five of his field goals and his pair of extra points. Le’Veon Bell served as the bell cow on the afternoon, carrying the ball 35 times for a total of 134 rushing yards and catching three passes for an additional 58 yards through the air. At this point in Big Ben Roethlisberger’s career, consistency is the key to the Steelers’ success and Roethlisberger delivered with 224 passing yards and a pair of touchdowns. Traveling to Detroit this weekend, Pittsburgh looks to extend their lead in the AFC North. -Tyler Hotz

5. Seattle Seahawks (4-2) (Last week: 8⬆️)

Seattle has now won three consecutive games after last week’s 24-7 victory over the Giants. However, the 4-2 Seahawks are still a half-game back out of first place with the NFC West due to the emergence of the 5-2 LA Rams this season. It took some time for the offense to hit the ground running last week. Seattle actually trailed the Giants 7-3 at the half. The Seahawks went on to go on to score 17 unanswered points thanks to a dominant defensive scheme. The defense limited New York to just 177 yards of total offense. Russell Wilson connected on 27 of his 39 pass attempts for 334 yards and three touchdowns. Doug Baldwin hauled in nine receptions for 92 yards and a touchdown. Seattle must keep pace with the Rams this week when they host rookie phenom DeShaun Watson and the 3-3 Houston Texans. -Shane Harvell

6. Los Angeles Rams (5-2) (Last week: 7⬆️)

Another week, another Rams win. The Rams shutout the Cardinals in LA doing the same thing they’ve done all season: putting the ball in Todd Gurley’s hands and letting Jared Goff make plays. The Rams are suddenly atop their division and have shown no signs of looking back. A strong first half put them ahead, while the defense took over in the second. While the offense has looked great, yes great, so far the surprising aspect of this 5-2 start has been how much the defense has grown. They were able to pick off the Cardinal’s quarterbacks twice in the game while also forcing a fumble. Watch out NFC because the Rams are finally ready to compete for a playoff spot. -Aman Hyrams

7. Minnesota Vikings (5-2) (Last week: 6⬇️)

One of the surprise teams of the year, the Minnesota Vikings are rolling and nothing is going to stop that. After rookie running back Dalvin Cook went out for the season with an injury, everyone wrote the Vikings off. Backup running backs Jerick McKinnon and Latavius Murray have been stepping up in big ways, continuing to control the clock and giving the Vikings’ defense a comfortable lead to protect. With the NFC North being up for grabs with Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers being out for the season, don’t be surprised if the Vikings win that division. -Michael Pigg

8. Dallas Cowboys (3-3) (Last week: 16⬆️)

Zeke’s suspension is still on hold but he isn’t and boy did he run. He got to do what he wanted and so did Dak with three touchdowns. Dak is slowly etching his name into Cowboys’ history and the combo of Elliot and Prescott is something the NFL hasn’t seen in awhile. The two came in together and the two are continuing to dominate together. Of course, with all this being said, it was just against the 49ers who are still looking for their first win. But, a 40-10 win is still impressive no matter who it’s against. In order for the Boys to prosper off of a win like this, something needs to change in the division. The Eagles have to lose more, the Boys can’t lose any divisional games and Zeke has to fight off this suspension. It’s still an uphill battle, but it’s a big oxygen boost after this win. -Noah Gerringer

9. New Orleans Saints (4-2) (Last week: 17⬆️)

Before I compliment the Saints’ defense, I need to point out that this was a injured-filled, Rodger-less Packers team. Now that it has been said, 87 yards is a low number for any quarterback. Even Kessler from the Browns had more and they only scored nine points. Drew Brees had a day through the air with 331 yards and no interceptions and Mark Ingram was running like he was when he won the Heisman at Alabama. The Saints are marching away with the division and as long as the Falcons and Panthers keep hurting themselves, they could end up with a real shot at the NFC Championship game when it comes down to it -Noah Gerringer

10. Jacksonville Jaguars (4-3) (Last week: 15⬆️)

I have been saying for weeks that the Jaguars are the most unpredictable team in the league right now. For a team that has talent in reserve, they drop games they shouldn’t and win games people wouldn’t expect. Nobody will sit here and tell you the Jags had no chance of beating a Luck-less Colts, but I don’t think anybody expected a 27-0 blowout. While the offense definitely took a hit playing without Leonard Fournette, Jacksonville’s defense played an absolutely incredible game, recording over 10 sacks and the first franchise shutout in 11 years. Blake Bortles led his team to two unanswered TDs, one of which happened on their opening drive. It is early in the season and this team has a history of doing the opposite of what is expected of them, but a healthy Fournette and this newfound defense could carry this team farther into the postseason than anyone would have guessed. -Garrett Wold

11. Atlanta Falcons (3-3) (Last week: 9⬇️)

Atlanta is 3-0 this season against NFC teams but contrastingly 0-3 against AFC teams after the loss Sunday night. The offense has progressively gotten worse over the last couple of weeks. Steve Sarkisian’s questionable play-calling is to blame for the embarrassing 23-7 loss in a rematch with the Patriots. Can the offense get out of their own fog? Is the MVP caliber Matt Ryan on vacation? New England shockingly outscored Atlanta 51-0 since the infamous 28-3 lead in the Super Bowl. The Dirty Birds could not connect on two field goals and attempted a failed jet sweep with Taylor Gabriel on fourth and goal from the 1-yard line. Let Devonta Freeman put his money where his mouth is. If Atlanta was able to put points on the board when the opportunity arose, the score could have been much closer. Adrian Clayborn’s roughing-the-passer penalty on an early Brady interception set the course for the outcome of the game. Atlanta must now try to keep pace in their division this week when they travel to face the 3-4 New York Jets. -Shane Harvell

12. Houston Texans (3-3) (Last week: 18⬆️)

The Texans had a bye week this week, so they look to continue their positive momentum next week in a game against the Seahawks. Hopefully a week off can help the team get rested and healthy. The offense is on a tear, so if the Texans can get the defense to play like they always have, they will win games. But the question is, can rookie Deshaun Watson continue his dominance? I think the answer is yes. -Eric Jackson

13. Buffalo Bills (4-2) (Last week: 14⬆️)

What a difference a year makes for the Bills. This year they are battling for a spot in the playoffs. Against the Bucs, the Bills were able to get star running back LeSean McCoy who found his way to the endzone twice. The Bills have already won four games this year and while they are known for how good they are defensively, their offensive exploded against the Bucs this week. Tyrod Taylor is known for his mobility outside the pocket but he has been efficient inside the pocket. This Bills team is going to shock some people this year with an intimidating defensive and offensive that can come alive at any time. -Silas Albright

14. Washington Redskins (3-3) (Last week: 12⬇️)

I really thought Washington had a chance to beat Philadelphia, but the Redskins’ defense continues to hold them back from being a playoff team. Not only that, but the Redskins injuries on the defensive side of the ball have started to pile up after a tough Monday night game with Philly. Wide receiver Terrelle Pryor, who was the Skins’ biggest offseason signing, hasn’t made any impact since Week 1, and Kirk Cousins continues to be very streaky at the quarterback position. Cousins’ targets either have big games, or don’t show up at all and on Monday they showed up for the first couple minutes of the game, but weren’t seen after that. Washington has a big game against Dallas next week and if they lose, their season is over. -Staff Report

15. Carolina Panthers (4-3) (Last week: 3⬇️)

What if I told you that the Panthers quadrupled the Bears in first downs and possessed the ball for more than 17 minutes than they did and still were a handed a 14-point loss? From most people, they’d say I was crazy, but that’s exactly what happened on Sunday in Chicago. Defensive back Eddie Jackson single handily beat the Panthers, scoring two defensive touchdowns of over 70 yards. The Bears’ defense battered the Carolina offense all day long, and the Panthers were unable to dig themselves out of an early 14-3 hole. Most concerning is the deteriorating health on the offensive line, where Ryan Kalil and Trai Turner left the game and didn’t return. If Carolina’s offense cannot establish the running game and protect Cam Newton, then their impressive defensive play won’t be enough to save them going forward. -Tyler Hotz

16. Detroit Lions (3-3) (Last week: 13⬇️)

Detroit had a bye week in Week 7 and they still sit at an underwhelming 3-3 on the year, falling to New Orleans in the most recent shootout in the Superdome 38-52 in Week 6. The Lions dropped two straight after starting 3-1 but the bye week should have supplied Jim Caldwell and his coaching staff some time to figure out what has been going wrong and to help get banged up players back to health. The bad news for the Lions is that the schedule isn’t getting any easier in the next two weeks as they host the Steelers on Sunday Night Football in Week 8 before traveling to Lambeau Field for a huge division showdown on Monday Night Football in Week 9. The good news for the Lions is the same thing– big matchups give the opportunity to pick up big wins that could put the Lions back in the conversation. We’ll just have to wait and see.  -Silas Albright

17. Denver Broncos (3-3) (Last week: 11⬇️)

The Broncos took a tough loss to the Chargers, where they were shut out for the first time since 1992. The offense looked sluggish and the defense let up a couple of big plays. Overall, the Chargers looked like the better team in this matchup. The Broncos will need to fix several things if they want to compete in their division. -Eric Jackson

18. Oakland Raiders (3-4) (Last week: 22⬆️)

I’m still trying to figure out how the Raiders pulled this one off. The odds to win the game were not in their favor with Derek Carr not quite looking like himself after a back injury and Amari Cooper struggling to poach defenses like he usually does, but there was just a little bit of magic on Thursday night. Carr and Cooper put up one of their best performances of their lives with Carr throwing for 417 yards and three touchdowns and Cooper going off for 210 receiving yards and two touchdowns. Let’s not forget Jared Cook who came up with a big catch to set up the game winning score after the offense was able to drive almost the length of the field. The defense leaves much to be desired after being torched at times themselves especially by Tyreek Hill, and the running game wasn’t inspiring either, but this was a win the Black and Silver needed to get their season back on track. -Aman Hyrams

19. Miami Dolphins (4-2) (Last week: 21⬆️)

If the season ended today, the Dolphins would be in the playoffs as a wildcard. If they played their Week 1 game against the Bucs and won, they’re 5-2 and tied for first in the division. This is good, but as usual the season in South Beach is having problems pile on. Jay Cutler is going to be out for at least three weeks, and say what you will about Smokin’ Jay but he is by no means a bad quarterback. Tack on Adam Gase’s signature, “I don’t care if you’ve started, you play to my standards or get out” move by cutting Byron Maxwell and you’ve got the reality show of a season continuing just as it wasn’t planned. The good news is that this is a team coached by Gase and he likes a challenge. -Ian Taylor

20. Green Bay Packers (4-3) (Last week: 11⬇️)

Brett is back in Lambeau. No, not Farve, Brett Hundley led the Packers this week in place of the injured Aaron Rodger who suffered a broken collarbone last week. Hundley showed a lot of promise as a starting QB with flashes of a strong arm and a fine set of legs, but Mike McCarthy seemed a little hesitant to really let him go. While the offense seemed slow, Green Bay’s defense played a strong game, picking off Drew Brees twice and forcing multiple three-and-outs. The Packers are having a rough time without their offensive captain steering the ship, but with the promise Hundley showed and a bye week to figure it all out, be sure to keep an eye out for Green Bay later this season. -Garrett Wold 

21. Tennessee Titans (4-3) (Last week: 23⬆️)

A win is a win, right? Wrong. The Titans are one of three teams in the NFL with a winning record and a negative point differential with the other two being the Panthers and the Dolphins. The Dolphins have a win over the Falcons under their belt, and the Panthers were just sort of handed a winning record, but neither have been taken to overtime by the Browns. The Titans just couldn’t get anything going against Cleveland, and if you can’t step up against the Browns then who can you step up against? Tennessee is in a two-way tie for first in the AFC South with the Jaguars. What’s crazier than the Jags being first in the division is that the Titans have a winning record, but they do. -Ian Taylor

22. Los Angeles Chargers (3-4) (Last week: 28⬆️)

Maybe the Chargers are not as bad as we once thought. Since starting the season 0-4 and looking like it would be a lost year, Los Angeles has won three straight games, with two of them coming against division rivals. Los Angeles handed Denver their first shutout since 1993 and the Los Angeles defense is beginning to look like one of the best in the NFL behind defensive end Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram. With the defense playing so well, Philip Rivers has not had to play like the star he once was. However, despite the three straight wins, the Bolts are favored in only one of their next four games.   -Staff Report

23. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-4) (Last week: 19⬇️)

It turns out that if you want to defeat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, you just have to invite them over. The Bucs fell to 2-4 with an 0-3 record on the road. Jameis Winston balled out for 384 and three TD’s and is playing as one of the best quarterbacks in the league. Winston already has 1,600 yards and a 95 passer rating which are pro bowl numbers that will go unnoticed because of how bad the defense is. As good as the eighth best offense in the league is, the 24th ranked defense is just as bad. -Ian Taylor

24. Chicago Bears (3-4) (Last week: 27⬆️)

There’s not much to say in the Bears’ early matchup against the Panthers. Both offenses really struggled to move the ball against the opposing defenses and the second half produced zero points between both teams combined. The difference in the game were three big plays, two of which were made by rookie safety Eddie Jackson. Jackson had two exciting returns for touchdowns, one being a fumble return and the other being an interception off a tipped pass, both going 75 yards or more. Questions emerged about his size coming into the NFL but we now know one thing’s for sure: he can make big plays. The other big play was a 70-yard reception by Tarik Cohen at the end of the first half which set up a field goal to put the Bears up 17-3. With an offense struggling to pass the ball, the Bears will have to rely on their defense and a heavy dose of Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen, but they are 3-4 so that may not be the worst thing. -Aman Hyrams

25. Baltimore Ravens (3-4) (Last week: 24⬇️)

The Ravens dropped another one this week to the Minnesota Vikings, 24-16. They kept it close until the third quarter, when the Vikings pulled away on a 29-yard Latavius Murray touchdown run. Joe Flacco played better this week, completing almost 70 percent of his passes for 186 yards and one touchdown. The touchdown was meaningless however, coming as time expired and the Ravens no longer had a chance to win the game. The Ravens’ lackluster offense continues to impede their ability to succeed, rushing for only 64 yards on 20 attempts, allowing six drives to end with a punt and relying on kicker Justin Tucker to score points. The Ravens do have several chances to turn things around in the coming weeks as matchups with the Dolphins, Titans and Packers are next on their board. -Brooks Maynard

26. Cincinnati Bengals (2-4) (Last week: 25⬇️)

I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again: Joe Mixon is not an NFL running back. The Bengals cannot rely on Mixon on the ground, which in turn makes every defense they face that much better in the air. The Steelers are not a bad team but when the most you can do is throw three times to someone who could be one of the best wide receivers in the NFL, you’re definitely not helping yourself one bit. Andy Dalton has disappeared again and some guy wearing his jersey threw two interceptions and only 140 yards. Not only that, but when you get Big Ben to throw two interceptions, the offense has to say thank you with points. I’m starting to get the feeling that maybe the Bengals just can’t see what’s wrong. I’ll give them a hint: it’s the guys with the ball. -Noah Gerringer

27. Arizona Cardinals (3-4) (Last week: 20⬇️)

Arizona, we have a problem! Carson Palmer suffered a broken arm in the 33-0 loss to the Rams. Palmer is expected to miss at least eight weeks. The injury bug has to be taken care of the Cards to reach the playoffs this season. Both their veteran quarterback and a stud of a running back will and has already missed valuable playtime this year. Adrian Peterson was of no help this week as he rushed for only 21 yards on 11 carries. Quarterback Drew Stanton will now be expected to help limp Arizona through the rest of the season. David Johnson’s earliest return to the squad from his wrist injury is Thanksgiving. The Cardinals are perched at 3-4 and two games back of the 5-2 LA Rams. At least Arizona has a bye this week before facing the San Francisco 49ers on Nov. 5. -Shane Harvell

28. New York Jets (3-4) (Last week: 26⬇️)

The Jets lost another close one this week, falling 31-28 to the Miami Dolphins. In the last four weeks, the Jets’ games have ended on an average margin of less than four points, pulling out two victories, 23-20 in overtime against the Jacksonville Jaguars and 17-14 against the Cleveland Browns. Quarterback Josh McCown continues to have one of the better seasons of his career, throwing for 209 yards and three touchdowns. He is on pace to throw for over 3,600 yards this season, the most he will have ever thrown in a single season by over 1,000. However, his interception problems continue, adding another one to the total for this week. That along with a devastating 124 yards lost on penalties, the Jets beat themselves once again. They will need to bring everything they can to have a chance to beat the Falcons this week. Brooks Maynard

29. Indianapolis Colts (2-5) (Last week: 29↔️)

The Colts are out of luck, figuratively and metaphorically.  While N.C. State alumnus Jacoby Brissett is showing a lot of promise as a starting QB, the Colts offense just can’t seem to get back into a rhythm and play consistently.  Indy was shut out by Jacksonville on Sunday, unable to put even a single point on the board.  Their defense played about as well as you can when there’s no points going towards your team, keeping the Jags to a couple TDs and a pair of field goals.  Indy will look to bounce back next week against a weak Bengals team that is ripe for an upset, whether or not they can figure out the offense in time is yet to be determined. -Garrett Wold

30. New York Giants (1-6) (Last week: 30↔️)

Another week, another loss for the Big Blue. The Giants’ defense held their own against Seattle until the fourth quarter. With no offense in sight, a strong defense wears out and can’t keep up the strong play. New York brought a 7-3 lead into the fourth quarter, but everyone knew they wouldn’t win with no offensive playmakers. The Giants gave up 21 straight points and have now lost more games than they lost all of last season. Eli Manning looks like a shell of himself with no receivers, and it is tough to throw a new quarterback in the game when the offensive line is so bad. The Giants have a bye week now, but this will be a long season. -Staff Report

31. San Francisco 49ers (0-7) (Last week: 31↔️)

All the potential to win that the 49ers have been building up over the last five weeks was fumbled, literally, against the Dallas Cowboys this week when they took the loss at home 40-10. Quarterback C.J. Beathard did complete 57 percent of his passes and avoided an interception but could produce no touchdowns and lost two fumbles. If it wasn’t for a 4-yard touchdown run from Beathard in the closing minutes of the game, San Francisco’s only score would have been Robbie Gould’s field goal in the first quarter. The 49ers lost another fumble when rookie wide receiver Trent Taylor lost control on a punt return and the Cowboys recovered the ball inside the 20. San Francisco actually matched Dallas on paper, with only four less first downs and within one on third down conversions. But the Cowboys produced over 200 more yards, largely due to the 49ers inability to control the ball. -Brooks Maynard

32. Cleveland Browns (0-7) (Last week: 32↔️)

The Browns lost again but it was a close, hard fought loss. The game went to overtime against the Titans, where the Browns ended up losing only by three. But once again the offense looked sluggish with rookie QB Deshone Kizer. This team is just not good and it does not look like they will be good for a while.Eric Jackson 

Rankings By: Brooks Maynard, Tyler Hotz, Silas Albright, Eric Jackson, Shane Harvell, Aman Hyrams, Michael Pigg, Ian Taylor, Noah Gerringer and Garrett Wold