We’ve seen it all in Week 7: upsets, comebacks, statement games and surprises, none more so than the Bills’ loss to the Patriots, which has knocked Buffalo out of my top 10. The consistent if not dominant Chiefs hold the top spot, while the Dolphins’ loss to the Eagles and the Ravens’ thumping of the Lions shakes up the middle of the pack.
Meanwhile, the resurgent Jaguars continue to climb, the Cowboys lurk and a gritty new squad enters the rankings.
With 49ers-Vikings still on the Week 7 docket, here is my NFL top 10.
1. Kansas City Chiefs
Record: 6-1; Last Week: 1
The Chiefs’ winning formula might have changed with their defense playing at an elite level, but the wins keep piling up with Andy Reid’s squad excelling at complementary football. Patrick Mahomes & Co. are playing efficiently, utilizing a more conservative approach that features higher-percentage throws to tight end Travis Kelce and an unheralded collection of pass-catchers. With Isiah Pacheco churning out yards on the ground, the Chiefs’ methodical approach will make them a tough out in the postseason tournament.
2. San Francisco 49ers
Record: 5-1; Last Week: 3
The 49ers are the “Bullies on the Block” in the NFC due to their overwhelming talent, toughness and physicality. Kyle Shanahan’s squad specializes in beating opponents up at the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball, and few opponents can withstand the 60 minutes of body blows delivered by San Francisco. Although questions persist as to whether Brock Purdy can lead this team to wins without an elite supporting cast around him, the 49ers’ depth will enable the QB1 to continue to thrive utilizing a managerial approach.
3. Philadelphia Eagles
Record: 6-1; Last Week: 4
A dominating performance against the Dolphins Sunday night showcased the team’s potential as a title contender. The Eagles’ ultra-athletic defense can suffocate opponents with its collective speed, quickness and explosiveness. With a deep and talented collection of blue-chip defenders making plays all over the field, the Eagles can rely on the defense to keep games in play until Jalen Hurts & Co. find their rhythm offensively. As a big-play machine with elite pass-catchers (A.J. Brown, Dallas Goedert and DeVonta Smith) and dynamic runners, the Eagles’ high-powered offense perfectly complements a stingy defense that bullies opponents into submission.
Jalen Hurts, Eagles top Tua Tagovailoa, Dolphins
4. Miami Dolphins
Record: 5-2; Last Week: 2
The Dolphins’ offensive sorcery is spell-binding but not enough to overcome the team’s inconsistent play against the elite teams on their schedule. Though the defense is playing without some injured Pro Bowlers in the secondary, the unit’s inability to keep the score down forces Mike McDaniel to turn every game into a shootout. Against the top teams, the Dolphins must win each of the three phases (offense, defense and special teams) to chalk up a W, and they are not yet good enough on defense to get the job done at a championship level.
5. Jacksonville Jaguars
Record: 5-2; Last Week: 7
Credit Doug Pederson for whipping the Jaguars into a title contender utilizing back-to-back London games, a home game and a prime-time appearance (Thursday Night Football) to forge their identity and a winning blueprint. After pushing their winning streak to four games due to an opportunistic defense and a balanced offense, the Jaguars are mastering the art of playing complementary football.
6. Baltimore Ravens
Record: 5-2; Last Week: 9
The offense finally put it all together in Week 7 with a 38-6 rout of the Lions. Lamar Jackson put on a virtuoso performance that reminded the football world of his All-Pro-caliber talents. The former MVP amassed nearly 400 offensive yards and four scores on a series of pinpoint passes and unscripted plays that showcased his growth as a passer and playmaker. With the QB1 playing like a top-five talent and the defense nearly pitching a shutout against an NFC contender, the Ravens are climbing the charts as one of the top teams in the AFC.
Lamar Jackson, Ravens crush Jared Goff, Lions
7. Detroit Lions
Record: 5-2; Last Week: 5
After taking a tail-kicking at the hands of an AFC bully, the Lions must regroup and refocus before a primetime game (Monday Night Football against the Las Vegas Raiders) ahead of their bye week. While the one-game stinker will kill some of the buzz surrounding Dan Campbell’s squad, the Lions are built to last with a top-10 unit on each side of the ball.
8. Dallas Cowboys
Record: 4-2; Last Week: 6
The Cowboys’ big win before their bye week has the team well-positioned to make a run at a top seed in the postseason. Although the offense’s red-zone woes and the defense’s issues against the run are concerns, Dallas’ star power might be enough to help “America’s Team” reemerge as a title contender by season’s end.
9. Cleveland Browns
Record: 4-2; Last Week: 10
Despite playing without their franchise quarterback for most of Week 7, the Browns added another win to their résumé without playing their A-game. While the inconsistent presence of Deshaun Watson is problematic, the team’s ability to win with backup QB PJ Walker at the helm speaks volumes about Cleveland’s talent and depth. Moreover, the Browns’ ability to succeed with their star running back (Nick Chubb) and his backup (Jerome Ford) on the shelf showcases the grittiness that separates this team from others in the AFC.
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10. Seattle Seahawks
Record: 4-2; Last Week: NR
It is not always pretty, but the Seahawks continue to pile up wins behind a gritty defense and blue-collar offense that punishes opponents with hard-hitting runs and timely play-action passes. Though the Seahawks leave points on the table and allow inferior opponents to hang around, Pete Carroll’s squad finds ways to win, and that’s all that matters in this league.
Bucky Brooks is an NFL analyst for FOX Sports. He also breaks down the game for NFL Network and as a cohost of the “Moving the Sticks” podcast. Follow him on Twitter @BuckyBrooks.
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