It’s been a wacky NFL season, to say the least. Five of the 12 playoff teams from last year are under .500. The team with the No. 1 overall draft pick just a few months ago is now the only undefeated team in the league. Jacksonville is on pace to set records for futility…well, I guess not everything has quite changed.
Now that just about everyone has played half their games, lets check in with all 32 NFL teams in my midseason power rankings.
1. Denver Broncos – 7-1
The undefeated squad isn’t the best in the NFL? Forget the loss in Indy a few weeks back, right now, Peyton’s Broncos are tops in the league. One thing to watch out for though: Manning’s downfield passes just aren’t working. Two weeks ago, he went 1-8 with two picks in passes over 15 yards.
2. Kansas City Chiefs – 9-0
This team is playing way over its head, through a combination of underused talent and straight up luck. They’re doing a terrific job with game management and not turning over the ball, but they haven’t had serious challenges yet, either.
3. Seattle Seahawks – 8-1
The Russell Wilson show keeps on running in Seattle, and though the NFC is stronger now than it has been in years, the Pacific Northwest is having super dreams this year.
4. Indianapolis Colts – 6-2
Indianapolis is benefiting from Houston’s relatively epic collapse, Jacksonville’s absolutely epic futility and Tennessee’s non-epic mediocrity. The Trent Richardson trade has blown up in their face, but no one cares as the boys in blue are cruising to the playoffs.
5. San Francisco 49ers – 6-2
The 49ers don’t quite seem to have the same edge in 2013, but are keeping pace with the Seahawks. Both will find their slots in the playoffs, but it’ll be a photo finish to see who gets that all-important bye.
6. New Orleans Saints – 6-2
Where did the Saints suddenly find a defense? We know where the offense came from: Sean Payton is making a serious case for Coach of the Year in his return from suspension, if he can avoid losing to another team like the Jets yesterday.
7. New England Patriots – 7-2
New England is hanging in there, but up until yesterday, something had been missing from this squad. Tom Brady has had trouble finding people to throw to, but yet they still find ways to win.
8. Cincinnati Bengals – 6-3
Where did Marvin Jones come from with 4 touchdowns last week? Like the Colts, the Bengals are capitalizing on a surprisingly weak division, but they’re still not winning some of the games they should. Road losses to Chicago, Cleveland and Miami are troubling, with a near miss in Buffalo.
9. Detroit Lions – 5-3
This team has rebounded nicely from its terrible 2012 campaign, and has a legit chance in the black and blue north. A nice stretch of easy road matches awaits them after their bye.
10. Carolina Panthers – 5-3
Is there anyone playing better ball right now than Cam Newton? Four wins in a row with one of the stoutest defenses in the league have flung the Panthers straight into the playoff hunt.
11. Chicago Bears – 5-3
Big win for Chicago last night in Green Bay. Josh McCown tossed 2 TDs, showing the season is not lost without Jay Cutler.
12. Green Bay Packers – 5-3
QB Aaron Rodgers will likely miss the next three games due to a broken collarbone. With the Lions on Thanksgiving Day looming large and a 3-way tie atop the NFC Norris, Green Bay’s super dreams have come crashing back to reality.
13. Arizona Cardinals – 4-4
Carson Palmer isn’t the answer in Arizona much beyond this year, but he’s stabilized that offense for now. The defense is missing former DC Ray Horton though, with three games of 30 or more allowed.
14. Tennessee Titans – 4-4
With Jake Looker back under center, the Titans look to get their season back on track. With two games against the Jaguars, along with the Raiders and Texans in their back eight slate, things look even better.
15. New York Jets – 5-4
The Jets have already won three more games than I expected them to. Geno Smith has been much better than advertised, but is still streaky. The Jets still don’t have any real receiving threats.
16. Dallas Cowboys – 5-4
This team is led by Jerry Jones in the front office, Jason Garrett in the locker room and Tony Romo on the field. Until at least two of these three situations are resolved, the Cowboys are doomed to mediocrity.
17. Cleveland Browns – 4-5
The Browns are 4-1 in games started by anyone other than Brandon Weeden, and that one loss came in a closely contested match against the undefeated Chiefs. But they are 0-4 in games started by #3. I personally like Weeden, but the numbers don’t lie. Jason Campbell gives this team a better chance, and yesterday’s win against Baltimore proved it.
18. San Diego Chargers – 4-4
Philip Rivers looks rejuvenated in Mike McCoy’s offense. But the Chargers need to find a consistent ground game if they have any playoff hopes behind the Chiefs and Broncos in the West. McCoy learned a very hard lesson in yesterday’s loss: If you have the chance to win the game on a single play, you always take it.
19. Miami Dolphins – 4-4
Miami beats Cincinnati on a safety in overtime. That’s a weird-ass way to win. But the Dolphins will take it right now.
20. Philadelphia Eagles – 4-5
Seven touchdowns from Nick Foles ends the discussion about who will be playing under center for Philly.
21. Baltimore Ravens – 3-5
Back to back division losses in winnable games have put this team’s playoff hopes on life support.
22. Washington Redskins – 3-5
The haters really need to get off RG3. He’ll be just fine, and he’s starting to show it in recent weeks. The team itself still has way too many holes, and that starts up front – #10 was sacked or under pressure in an astounding 42% of his drop backs two weeks ago.
23. Oakland Raiders – 3-5
Terrelle Pryor has been one of the biggest surprises of this season thus far. But the Raiders have no real chance behind Denver, Kansas City and San Diego in what has quickly become the NFL’s best division.
24. St. Louis Rams – 3-6
It’s too bad that Sam Bradford got hurt again; the Rams had a chance there for a minute. But in a division behind Seattle, San Francisco and Arizona and without their franchise quarterback, there’s no hope for these guys in 2013.
25. Buffalo Bills – 3-6
Their backup quarterback wasn’t be able to start this week against the NFL’s only undefeated team. With six losses and only one wildcard slot up for grabs (Kansas City or Denver will get the other), Buffalo’s NFL-leading playoff drought will continue another year.
26. Pittsburgh Steelers – 2-6
Poor draft results and a questionable offensive philosophy has doomed the Steelers to the basement in 2013. This franchise is slow to make changes, but expect some big ones come March.
27. Houston Texans – 2-6
Just when we thought the Texans were becoming an NFL force, they’re back in the basement and Indianapolis is leading the division. What is this, 2009? QB Case Keenum looks like he might be a keeper, though.
28. New York Giants – 2-6
Somehow the Giants have won two straight and – believe it or not – are only three wins out of first place in the horrendous NFC East. The road won’t be easy though – Green Bay, San Diego, Seattle and Detroit come in the back-half.
29. Atlanta Falcons – 2-6
What is wrong with the Falcons is much more than a lack of receivers. Two weeks ago, the Cardinals defense caught more passes than the Falcons receivers on downfield throws, and Ryan is an INT machine lately.
30. Minnesota Vikings – 1-7
They’ve tried three different quarterbacks and none have worked. Look for a new QB – and a new head coach – in 2014.
31. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – 0-8
I actually liked Greg Schiano as a coach. But it seems like he needs to go in Tampa Bay – it just isn’t working.
32. Jacksonville Jaguars – 0-8
Head Coach Gus Bradley will get this team on track. Eventually. But it’s going to take years to get past years of NFL Draft futility.