1. New England Patriots (Last week: 1)
Another week, another dominant victory. Tom Brady is a legitimate MVP candidate despite missing the first four games of the season. Jamie Collins might be gone, but this defense should keep humming along. Revenge against Rex Ryan is always nice too for Bill Belichick.
2. Dallas Cowboys (Last week: 2)
The Cowboys have played half of their schedule and have a 2.5 game lead over the rest of the NFC East. Overtime was required for Dallas to oust Philly, but the 4th quarter Dallas put together cannot be overlooked. The biggest question now is who deserves Rookie of the Year, Dak Prescott or Ezekiel Elliot.
3. Denver Broncos (Last week: 6)
Three weeks ago, Denver had lost two straight and seemed to be slipping. Fast forward to now where they sit at 6-2 with solid wins over Houston and San Diego. The Patriots have the early lead, but the Broncos are hanging around in the AFC.
4. Oakland Raiders (Last week: 9)
The Raiders actually lead the AFC West right now, but a matchup with Denver on Sunday will decide who gets that designation. Oakland won this weekend despite setting a record for the most penalties in a game. That’s impressive, but also concerning.
5. Atlanta Falcons (Last week: 10)
Talk about a fourth quarter comeback. Atlanta slowed down the Packer offense in the second half and moved themselves to 5-3. Atlanta has shown that they are going to be competitive this year against anyone.
6. Kansas City Chiefs (Last week: 7)
Somehow, the Chiefs are in third place in the AFC West with a 5-2 record. That’s a testament to just how good this division is this year. Even if Alex Smith and the backfield are banged up, Kansas City has always won with defense and will continue to going forward.
7. Seattle Seahawks (Last week: 3)
Seattle has only one win against a team with a winning record so far this season. A tough road loss to the Saints means that the Seahawks return home for a Monday night matchup with the Bills at 4-3-1. AKA not where anyone thought they would be right now.
8. Minnesota Vikings (Last week: 4)
The loss to the Eagles seemed like an anomaly, until Minnesota laid an egg on Monday Night Football. It might have been a divisional game, but a loss to the Bears really hurts. The Vikings suddenly look like a team with a lot of question marks on the offensive side of the ball.
9. Green Bay Packers (Last week: 5)
Green Bay came within about a minute of beating the Falcons for what would have been an impressive road victory. Considering that Ty Montgomery, James Starks and Randall Cobb were out with injury, the Packers had a strong offensive showing. Minnesota’s loss leaves the Packers just a game out of first in the NFC North, but they need to be much more consistent down the stretch.
10. Philadelphia Eagles (Last week: 8)
It was a solid week, but still a loss to a division rival. Dallas now has a commanding lead in the NFC East halfway through the season. Carson Wentz is still playing well, but the ground attack could use a bit of a boost.
11. Washington (Last week: 13)
A tie over in London wouldn’t suggest for Washington to move up, but after losses by both Arizona and Detroit, this seems fitting. Washington is still right in the mix for a wildcard spot in the NFC, with this offense leading the way averaging the third most yards per game.
12. New York Giants (Last week: 14)
New York took the week off and as a result moved into second place in the NFC East. However, the Giants have some offensive issues to solve. They rank last in rushing yards per game and are scoring fewer points per game than the Browns. Ben McAdoo has some work to do.
13. Arizona Cardinals (Last week: 11)
Arizona fell on the road against Carolina, showing that they really are just an average team. The Cardinals rank 18th in points per game but sixth in points per game. Time for what can be a high powered offense to catch up to its defense.
14. Detroit Lions (Last week: 12)
Detroit had a chance to take down a slumping Texans team but instead find themselves at .500 at the midway point of the season. A matchup with the reeling Vikings will show us if this was just a bump in the road after a three-game win streak for the Lions, or a sign of things to come.
15. San Diego Chargers (Last week: 15)
All of the statistics in the world point to the Chargers being a good team, except for their record. San Diego’s upcoming schedule of Tennessee, Miami, Houston and Tampa Bay does give them a good chance to turn that around though.
16. New Orleans Saints (Last week: 21)
Finally, the Saints got a win against a quality opponent. It has been a rough start to the season for Sean Payton’s group, but the NFC South is still wide open, as is the NFC as a whole. The defense looked better this week, allowing fewer than 27 point for the first time since week 2.
17. Pittsburgh Steelers (Last week: 18)
There are rumors that Ben Roethlisberger might be closer to returning than we initially thought. Big Ben coming back to the Steelers offense makes them a force again in the AFC. And with the rest of the division slumping, Pittsburgh has to feel pretty confident.
18. Cincinnati Bengals (Last week: 17)
Washington moved up but Cincinnati is moving down. The Bengals had a chance to force a tie atop the AFC North with Pittsburgh, but could not find a way to get the win in London. Cincy has a bye week to attempt to regain its 2015 form.
19. Houston Texans (Last week: 23)
Someone please explain the Houston Texans to me. After looking completely helpless in Denver, Bill O’Brien turned his team around to take down a red-hot Lions team. Houston isn’t good, but they are probably good enough to win the AFC South.
20. Baltimore Ravens (Last week: 19)
A week off gave the Ravens time to recover from the four game slide they are currently on. The division is still wide open, but Joe Flacco need to find a way to jumpstart the 26th ranked scoring offense in football.
21. Buffalo Bills (Last week: 16)
And they are back to normal. Just two weeks after claiming a spot in the top 10, Buffalo is now back in the bottom half of the league. Back-to-back divisional losses where your defense looks helpless will do that to you.
22. Tennessee Titans (Last week: 27)
Tennessee is very quietly sitting at .500 through the halfway point of the season. It has already surpassed its win total for 2015 and sits just a game out of first place in the AFC South. How the Titans do in this next four game stretch, with three of them on the road, will decide the outcome of their season.
23. Miami Dolphins (Last week: 22)
The Fins got a week off, which have been the last thing they wanted. They had won two in a row and Jay Ajayi was on fire. Next week brings a matchup with the Jets to avoid the AFC East cellar.
24. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Last week: 20)
How Tampa failed to win on Sunday is almost mind-boggling. Oakland committed 23 penalties and still beat the Buccaneers. Overall, not a good look. Winston has nine interceptions in seven games. That number needs to come down if the Bucs want to compete.
25. Carolina Panthers (Last week: 26)
Finally a win for the Panthers gets them back on track. Sitting at 2-5, Carolina still has a long way to go before they can really say they have righted the ship, but this was step one.
26. Indianapolis Colts (Last week: 24)
Andrew Luck needs to start getting some help. He has played well in the first half of the season for the Colts, but the lack of a run game and a pathetic defense continue to plague the Colts. Allowing 28.8 points per game means that Chuck Pagano might not have his job for much longer.
27. New York Jets (Last week: 28)
Two straight wins for the Jets over AFC North teams puts them at 3-5. Being down 20-7 at halftime with Ryan Fitzpatrick completing 3 of his 12 passes for 30 yards will not work most weeks, so Todd Bowles has a lot of work to do to prep this team for Miami.
28. Los Angeles Rams (Last week: 25)
The Rams have shown flashes of being a competent team this season, with wins over the Seahawks and Buccaneers. But inconsistent play along with poor coaching has this team in flux as it tries to find an identity.
29. Chicago Bears (Last week: 31)
Chicago just got a statement win for John Fox against Minnesota. It won’t really do much for them this season, as they sit at 2-6 right now, but it is a huge boost for the future. Jay Cutler played the best football we’ve seen him play in some time and Jordan Howard tore apart a very good Vikings defense. This gives the Bears something to build on.
30. Jacksonville Jaguars (Last week: 29)
Another rough week for Jacksonville. The Jags were blown out through three quarters until they scored late to make the game seem competitive. Gus Bradley is on the hot seat and he knows it. I think these next two weeks against Kansas City and Houston will decide his future.
31. San Francisco 49ers (Last week: 30)
Now the only one win team in football, San Francisco needs to find some offensive weapons not named Carlos Hyde. This season seems pretty far gone and Chip Kelly has to be thinking about next year at this point, most notably about which quarterback he would like to draft in April.
32. Cleveland Browns (Last week: 32)
There was hope for Browns fans for a good chunk of Sunday. But then that completely disappeared and the Cubs beat the Indians. Now, Browns fans are facing a Game 7 with a possibility of blowing a 3-1 lead in the World Series. We all know how quickly the sports world tends to forget about that.
Credit all authors of images used in both article and as cover image : Chris McGlynn