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Def Pen’s 2017 Week Seven NFL Power Rankings

Drew Brees and the Saints have made a leap in the NFL Power Rankings (Chris Graythen, Getty Images)

Another crazy week sent the NFL Power Rankings scrambling. Although, there might not be quite as much movement as expected. The way the league has found a way to be completely unpredictable while creating a situation where most of the NFL ranks somewhere in the vicinity of average. So far, 2017 has proved pretty fascinating.

Week Seven NFL Power Rankings, Tier One: Best All-Around Team

  • Kansas City Chiefs

Despite coming off their first loss (and a bizarre one at that) to the Steelers, Kansas City still sits atop the NFL Power Rankings. They’ve shown to be the most complete team so far. The loss puts their standing on some shakier ground as it pertains to the top spot, but not enough to move them down.

Tier Two: Fighting for Top NFC Spot

  • Philadelphia Eagles
  • Los Angeles Rams
  • Carolina Panthers
  • Minnesota Vikings
  • Detroit Lions

The NFC is about as wide open as it gets (and that might not be as positive as it seems). But it’s definitely a benefit to the Eagles, who cemented their place with a win over the Panthers.

The Rams rank right up there with the Eagles for the biggest surprise of the season. The Rams rode a hot start last week (17 first-quarter points) to win against the surging Jaguars.

Carolina’s placement among the NFL’s elite is hugely dependent on Luke Kuechly’s health. His presence alone changes the Panthers’ defensive potential as much as any one player can affect his team.

Minnesota and Detroit are bound to separate at some point. Both have plenty of question marks, but enough to make the postseason – especially with the injury woes to division rival Green Bay. For now, the Vikings get top billing since their one game better in the standings, but these two seem to have roughly equal talent.

Tier Three: Keeping Their Head Above Water

  • Atlanta Falcons
  • Buffalo Bills
  • Green Bay Packers
  • Denver Broncos
  • New England Patriots
  • Pittsburgh Steelers
  • Washington Football Team
  • Dallas Cowboys
  • Seattle Seahawks
  • New Orleans Saints
  • Tennessee Titans
  • Houston Texans
  • Jacksonville Jaguars

From a talent standpoint, Atlanta has the ability to ascend up the NFL Power Rankings. However, that talent hasn’t shown through. Blame it on a typical slow start, injuries, or blame it on a Super Bowl hangover … still, doesn’t change the fact that the Falcons have disappointed.

The Bills are coming off a bye and New Orleans is the only team Buffalo plays over the next five weeks that currently has a winning record. If the Bills have a power move to make this season, it must come over this span.

How much does Aaron Rodgers’ injury influence the Packers ranking in the NFL Power Rankings? Green Bay took a tumble after the injury to their Quarterback and (to a lesser extent) a loss to the Vikings. While it’s sad that football took away the game’s best quarterback for (probably?) the season, the Packers are still a pretty interesting team. How long until we know if Brett Hundley is good or not?

While the Packers have one set of quarterback problems, the Broncos have quite another. Trevor Siemian has been healthy, but Denver can never really know what they get out of him from week to week. There’s a group of teams (including the Broncos) that maybe should explore a change at quarterback but won’t simply because a change in the middle of a run for a division title is not something NFL head coaches welcome.

Even though the Patriots beat the New York Jets in Week Six, there was nothing performance-wise on New England’s part that would make any objective fan think the Patriots were markedly better than the Jets.

Pittsburgh has bounced up and down the NFL Power Rankings all season. They’re hard to get a feel for. They have more offensive skill talent than anybody in the league. Plus, the defense has played better than most expected. However, the Steelers have been maddeningly inconsistent (specifically at quarterback).

Washington, Dallas, and Seattle would each seem to have the players to propel them into the playoffs. But none are currently leading their division, and the team with the most question marks before the season – Washington – has performed the best of this group.

At some point, the New Orleans Saints’ lack of defensive playmaking will hurt them. But their defense made a bunch of plays against the Lions in Week Six. The Saints are either sneaking up the NFL Power Rankings, or they have peaked. We’ll find out over the next few games. The next three weeks have the Saints going to Green Bay to take on a Rodgers-less Packers, then home for Chicago and Tampa Bay. A three-game winning streak would thrust New Orleans into the NFC playoff picture.

The Titans got a healthy Marcus Mariota back and got a win against the Colts. Tennessee has some really impressive wins this season, but also some really disappointing losses. Taking care of Cleveland this week would go along way in proving they can keep their feet on the gas pedal against a weak opponent.

A couple weeks ago, Houston must have felt pretty good about their chances to win the AFC South. A couple defensive injuries and tougher-than-thought opponents now have Houston in a three-way tie. With what they have left, and the fact they’re relying on a rookie quarterback, the Texans might turn out to be fool’s gold.

Jacksonville has proved to be a bit frisky. Their defense is really good and Leonard Fournette could already be the NFL’s best running back. However, it’s clear the team doesn’t trust Blake Bortles to make the big throw. Count the Jaguars amongst the teams that should explore a QB change but probably won’t. Or at least won’t until it’s too late.

Tier Four: The Struggle is Real

  • Miami Dolphins
  • Tampa Bay Buccaneers
  • Oakland Raiders
  • Los Angeles Chargers
  • Baltimore Ravens
  • Cincinnati Bengals
  • New York Jets

The Dolphins move up a bit by getting their third win of the season. Still, in that win, they only managed 20 points. More is needed to believe Miami is for real though. They’re sporting the worst point differential of any team with a winning record at -23.

Uncertainty about Jameis Winston’s health supersedes uncertainty about Jameis Winston’s performance, at least for this week. At some point, the performance questions will take precedence.

Oakland is on thin ice. A couple more bad performances and things might get ugly beyond just on the field. The move to Las Vegas put an aggressive and loyal fan base in a defensive position. A losing product on the field will only poison the situation more. The Raiders might just want to fast forward til next season’s kickoff.

The Los Angeles Chargers woke up a little over the past couple weeks. But unless that shows to be a sustainable level of competitiveness, the Chargers deserve to be placed this low in the NFL Power Rankings.

Baltimore has a chance to take advantage of a very mediocre middle class of AFC teams. The Ravens belong in that group though and still haven’t proved they can overcome their lack of explosiveness. (Chalk them up as another team that should be considering another quarterback, but won’t.)

Like a few teams mentioned above, every team from the Ravens on down (with one exception) deserves to be in the “Exploring a change at QB” camp. Like other teams, Cincinnati committed to Andy Dalton early, but that hasn’t been met with the steady improvement they expected. Dalton (like others) is now holding the Bengals offense back, as opposed to leading it.

It’s kind of impressive how the Jets have a tendency to make a mess of games (and have used that to their advantage in their three wins). However, they run into a Miami team this week that plays a similar way. It’s a huge surprise New York is 3-3 so far, but that win column might stay the same for a while. The loss to the Patriots – in the manner it happened – might prove to be a demoralizing moment for a team who wasn’t expected to do much anyway.

Tier Five: Going Down with the Ship

  • Arizona Cardinals
  • Chicago Bears
  • New York Giants
  • Indianapolis Colts
  • San Francisco 49ers
  • Cleveland Browns

Arizona’s next three games are each against a different in-division opponent. They could totally flip the season’s script with wins in even two of those games. It might take three straight performances better than what they’ve given so far, though.

The presence of Mitchell Trubisky hasn’t done much to move the needle in Chicago. But in his rookie season, he wasn’t expected to. Realistically, the Bears are right in line with expectations and should focus on finding pieces that can help them long-term. Trubisky is one of those pieces, along with several others. The downside, though, is that it’s bound to stay dark for a while in Chicago before they see this process through to the other side.

The Giants scored a huge upset win against Denver in Week Six. It doesn’t move them in the NFL Power Rankings, though. After injuries and frustrating quarterback and defensive play, New York still has a pretty bare cupboard in terms of what’s left on the field.

Indianapolis’ upper-management has lots and lots of question to answer for. From everything to the handling of Andrew Luck’s injury to roster construction to laying out their long-term plan for the franchise.

San Francisco put up (another) tough outing but ultimately lost by two to Washington. Other than that, the 49ers and Browns stay at the bottom of the NFL Power Rankings. They’re both bad teams that can’t close the door even if they do stay competitive through an entire game. Not much more to say.

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Def Pen’s 2017 Week Seven NFL Power Rankings


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