By Jake Noddell and Alex Lefkowitz (NFL Analysts)
- Philadelphia Eagles (5-1)
The Eagles boast the 3rd best offense averaging 383 yards per game and 27.5 points per game. Second year quarterback Carson Wentz is having an outstanding sophomore campaign, already with 13 touchdowns and a passer rating of 99.6. Their defense may become a liability later on in the season, however.
- Kansas City Chiefs (5-2)
Kansas City barely lost to a much improved Pittsburgh Steelers squad this past Sunday. This high powered offense, led by rookie star running back Kareem Hunt and MVP candidate Alex Smith (12 TDs, 0 INTs, 119.2 Passer Rating) will make a deep run in the playoffs as long as their currently 29th ranked defense can improve.
- Carolina Panthers (4-2)
The Panthers look like their 2015 Super Bowl-appearing team, behind outstanding play from now healthy quarterback Cam Newton. Their 4th ranked defense is carrying the team allowing just 20.3 points per game.
- New England Patriots (4-2)
The Patriots edged out the Jets this past sunday behind a questionable call that would’ve tightened the game. Their offense is ranked 1st, averaging 412 yards per game and 28.7 points per game. Their defense, on the other hand, is ranked last. Tom Brady needs to keep putting up points up on the board at a high rate if the Patriots want to appear in a second straight Super Bowl.
- Houston Texans (3-3)
Rookie quarterback Deshaun Watson has been the most impressive rookie thus far. The losses of JJ Watt and Whitney Mercilus to season-ending injuries put a big obstacle in the way for Houston, but their high powered offense scoring nearly 30 points per game should be enough to carry the Texans into the playoffs.
- Pittsburgh Steelers (4-2)
The triple B’s, Big Ben, Bell, and Brown, showed the NFL their full capabilities this past Sunday after defeating the undefeated Chiefs at Arrowhead. Their defense, ranked 3rd overall, unlike previous seasons, has been rather impressive thus far.
- Minnesota Vikings (4-2)
Minnesota has a clear shot to the playoffs after Aaron Rodger’s likely season-ending injury. If Detroit’s play remains subpar, no team in the NFC North poses as a viable threat to dethrone the Vikings.
- Los Angeles Rams (4-2)
The Rams look improved from last season, mainly attributed to great play by their young talents, Jared Goff and Todd Gurley. However, the Rams started last year 3-1, but finished just 4-12.
- Arizona Cardinals (3-3)
Arizona seems as if they salvaged their season by acquiring running back Adrian Peterson, who had 134 yards and 2 touchdowns in his team debut against Tampa Bay. If Carson Palmer can stay healthy, the Cardinals have as good a chance as any to win the NFC West.
- Dallas Cowboys (2-3)
Ezekiel Elliot once again evaded his 6-game suspension, allowing him to play yet again. The Cowboys have had one of the toughest schedules thus far into the season. The offensive line doesn’t seem to be in its natural form, which hurts the team as a whole. Their offense is still ranked in the top 10, but their defense is in the bottom half of the league.
- Green Bay Packers (4-2)
With the loss of Aaron Rodgers, likely for the season, Green Bay has to rely heavily on quarterback Brett Hundley. He has been the backup for a number of years and knows the system well. He will need to rely heavily on Jordy Nelson and Davante Adams if he wants to be able to salvage the Packers playoff hopes.
- Atlanta Falcons (3-2)
Atlanta lost its second game in a row, with a bye week in between, to another subpar AFC East team. Their top 10 ranked defense hasn’t been the issue; it has been their offense. Matt Ryan has just 6 touchdowns compared to 6 INTs.
- Seattle Seahawks (3-2)
Seattle is ranked in the middle of the pack for both offense and defense. They have had very inconsistent running back play and Russell Wilson hasn’t been any better than average.
- Washington Redskins (3-2)
Kirk Cousins has been impressive this year, with a passer rating of 106.4 and 9 touchdowns. The Redskins stout defense, currently ranked 12th, can carry this team to the playoffs as long as injuries don’t become an occurrence.
- Jacksonville Jaguars (3-3)
Jacksonville lost this past Sunday to an impressive Rams team. They boast two of the league’s premier cornerbacks, along with a strong front 7. Rookie Leonard Fournette has been one of the most impressive players in all of the NFL so far.
- Miami Dolphins (3-2)
Jay Ajayi finally broke out this past Sunday, rushing for 130 yards on 26 carries. Jay Cutler has been terrible so far this season but the defense has been rather impressive.
- Denver Broncos (3-2)
The number 1 ranked defense along with impressive running from CJ Anderson has boosted the Broncos. As long as Trevor Siemian can avoid turning the ball over, Denver has a real chance to make a run.
- Detroit Lions (3-3)
Matthew Stafford has already thrown 12 touchdowns and still has the comeback trait in his blood. This past Sunday, Detroit was down by 35 and ended up within just 1 possession.
- Tennessee Titans (3-3)
Marcus Mariota’s injury doesn’t help the Titans who are struggling early on in the season. The high expectations people had at the beginning of the season have calmed rapidly as they consistently show very little offensively.
- New Orleans Saints (3-2)
With Adrian Peterson out of the picture, rookie Alvin Kamara and veteran Mark Ingram look to carry the Saints back to the playoffs. Historically, the Saints D has been terrible but with the addition of rookie corner Marshon Lattimore, they are back in business.
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-3)
Tampa Bay was highly anticipated to be a very good team this year, as they just missed out on the playoffs last year (9-7 record). They have yet to break out, but Doug Martin looks fresh after serving his 4 game suspension.
- Cincinnati Bengals (2-3)
Cincinnati has the second ranked defense and now that Andy Dalton looks to be playing better, the Bengals have a chance to make the playoffs, of course considering the Steelers seem to be in midseason form.
- Oakland Raiders (3-4)
The Oakland RRRRadiers look to get back on track with a healthy Derek Carr. Meanwhile, high expectations for Amari Cooper and Marshawn ‘Beastmode’ Lynch have not come to fruition. The defense led by Khalil Mack looks to continue to keep the Raiders in games.
- Buffalo Bills (3-2)
Buffalo has been a pleasant surprise this year after beating the Broncos and Falcons, two of the league’s premier teams. Now, with the help of rookie sensation Tre’Davious White, the Bills defense looks to bring the Bills Mafia back to the playoffs for the first time since 1999.
- New York Jets (3-3)
Going into the season, Jets fans wanted them to tank so they could get the number one overall pick and select their franchise quarterback. Josh McCown has other plans. He has led the “gang green” to a .500 win percentage and the defense, led by a strong secondary, has held opposing offenses in check.
- Baltimore Ravens (3-3)
Joe Flacco’s back injury and the loss of Steve Smith have destroyed the Ravens offense. Terrell Suggs and the defense will need to pick up the slack if Baltimore has any chance of beating out the Steelers in the AFC North.
- Los Angeles Chargers (2-4)
After dropping their first four, the LA Chargers have won two straight. Now, with star running back Melvin Gordon tearing through defenses, the bolts look to get back into playoff contention.
- Chicago Bears (2-4)
Promising rookie Mitchell Trubisky is finally getting his chance, but a 73.3 passer rating and a 48.8 completion percentage are not gonna be able to win them much games. Luckily, a young and effective run game (3rd most rushing YPG) along with a decent defense support him until he finally understands the feel of an NFL game.
- Indianapolis Colts (2-4)
The Colts continue to await the return of Andrew Luck. A 2-4 record is fairly impressive considering their circumstances and their schedule.
- New York Giants (1-5)
The Giants beat the Broncos, in Denver, on Sunday Night, for the first win of the season. The defense was very impressive, while Eli Manning stayed mistake free for the most part. But without their top 2 recievers, the playoffs are far-fetched.
- San Francisco 49ers (0-6)
San Francisco has few bright spots, but rookie linebacker Reuben Foster has played well thus far.
- Cleveland Browns (0-6)
Back to the drafting board for Cleveland.