Updated: Nov 17, 2021
Teams in the Conversation
Titans, Bengals Browns, Steelers Ravens, Broncos Chiefs, Raiders, Chargers, Patriots, Bills, Cowboys, Cardinals, Rams, Packers, Buccaneers, and Saints
Raiders barely make this list because, even though everything is burning around them, they deserve a chance to bounce back before falling off completely. They lost to a tough Giants team, but they still have a good record. The Raiders have been on this list since it started and have equity with me. I'll give them more than a week to figure this out, especially given how muddy the AFC playoff picture is.
The Browns got a decisive victory against the Bengals. They got that win without star receiver Odell Beckham Jr. Understandably, Odell would want to move on from this team. However, this game shows both the Browns and Odell are on to better things. The Bengals game showed that the Browns work best when their running backs and defense carry the load, and Baker Mayfield just game manages. However, the Browns are on this list for the first time because they finally looked like last year's squad. The Browns are only ranked ninth because they need to string more games like this together before I can rank them higher.
The Chargers win over the Eagles wasn't that impressive. The Eagles aren't that good. However, the Chargers are an impressive team. They have a great secondary, decent pass rush, and a loaded offense. Also, they had an impressive win over the number ten team, the Browns. The Chargers also have a very good chance to make the playoffs.
Jordan Love's debut didn't go well. Maybe he will be good one day, but he clearly isn't ready to take the helm today. The defense looked great. Who knows if Rodgers will come back and hit the ground running. However, the defense smothered the Chiefs, and the run game looks good. The Packers are in a good position to make a splash in the playoffs as long as Rodgers can get back to the team.
Ravens showed they are a gritty team who will win however they can. They are six and two now, and by the record, are one of the best teams in the NFL. However, there is no way they should have struggled as much as they did against the Vikings. The Ravens defense, that was starting to come along a few weeks ago, is still very inconsistent. Also, the offense needs to dominate bad opponents. Ravens shouldn't be beating good teams and bad teams the same way.
After I ranked the Cowboys number one last week, they immediately buckled under the pressure and took their first embarrassing loss to the Broncos, of all teams. However, I think this game will be an outlier. The receiving core was a little beat up, and Dak Prescott was returning from injury. I think the Cowboys will return to form next week, and they are still one of the best teams, even after falling four spots on the list.
The Rams took a big fat L this week. Not only did they lose, but they looked really bad in their loss. Both the players and the coaches are too good to continue playing as they did on Sunday night. The Rams are still Super Bowl contenders, but I am concerned that their two losses were both embarrassing losses. The offense has to be more clever than they have been. They need to use Henderson way more than they have, and the defense needs to get more pressure.
Titans are cracking the top five for the first time this season because they can't be stopped. They knocked off another Super Bowl contender, and this time, they did it without Henry. The Titans don't even have Julio Jones at full strength yet. This team could get even scarier.
2. The Bucs
I still think the Bucs are one of the best teams in the NFL. They had a bad loss to the Saints, but they are getting healthier and have shown the ability to correct course. They have been playing with a hand behind their back because of injury, but they get some talent back after the bye, and I expect them to continue their Super Bowl campaign.
Would you look at this? The Cardinals undefeated streak was snapped. Kyler Murray was injured, the receiving core was decimated, and JJ Watt was declared out for the season. So, it seemed like it was time for the Cardinals to fall off. Then, out of nowhere, Colt McCoy and James Conner shocked the world and exposed the 49ers. The Cardinals reclaim their throne as the reigning defending best team in the NFL.
The MVP Race
5. Tom Brady
The field largely didn't show up this week. So, even when Brady doesn't play, I think he hasn't been surpassed in the conversation by most players. He still has insane production and is still carrying his team, so he is still in the MVP conversation.
4. AJ Brown
AJ Brown has been a huge part of this Titans magical run. He has played through sickness and injury, and showed up for the team time and time again. His stats from Sunday night's game may not look amazing, but he showed up when they needed him against Jalen Ramsey.
3. TJ Watt
TJ Watt has been wrecking games, and he didn't stop last night against the Bears. Now, unfortunately, I have to mention how terrible the officiating was. The calls that were made can't be ignored and directly impacted the results. However, TJ did his part as well. Three sacks and his block at the end of the game sealed it for the Steelers. If TJ Watt doesn't block the out route to the sideline, the Bears get a little closer and probably win with a field goal.
2. Justin Herbert
Justin Herbert has been pretty impressive all season. He impressed this week as well. He threw for nearly four hundred yards, two touchdowns, and no picks. He had a QB rating of 123.2. If he keeps playing like this, he might be in for another post-season award.
1. Lamar Jackson
Lamar is incredible. He just keeps knocking down all the challenges in front of him. They said he wouldn't translate, and he takes his team to the playoffs in his first year. They said he couldn't throw, so he won a unanimous MVP with the most passing touchdowns of any QB. They said he couldn't win a playoff game, and he did that too. Now, they say he can't come back from behind, and he's done it multiple times this season. Plus, he is still just as dangerous with his legs, breaking Michael Vick's record for most one hundred yard rushing games. Watching Lamar is watching history being made. He is not done yet. He looks to be at the front of the line for this year's MVP.
4. Benched Rookies
Zack Wilson doesn't seem any closer to getting his team back. Even after White went down, the third-string QB, Josh Johnson, still made the Jets offense look better than Zack has thus far. Davis Mills has a chance to reclaim his job after Tyrod Taylor laid an egg in a winnable game against the Dolphins. Trey Lance could get the starting job back, but there is still no proof he would be an upgrade from Jimmy G.
3. Mac Jones
Mac Jones picks up another win. But Mac didn't do much in this victory. One interception, one touchdown, and under two hundred yards. Mac Jones didn't lose or gain any respect for his playing ability this week, but he did lose some respect from some for twisting an opponent's ankle and then telling a blatant lie about why he did it after the game. The reality of the situation is his team won't punish him, and neither will the NFL, but the defenders he will play might feel differently.
2. Trevor Lawrence
Lawrence got the biggest win of his young career this week. He stole one from the Buffalo Bills. He didn't score much, but he got his team in position more than his opponent. He didn't give the ball up and secured the victory. What will Trevor Lawrence do when the Jags are actually good, if he can do this now against the Buffalo Bills?
1. Justin Fields
Justin Fields may have lost the game, but if you are a Bears fan, you have to be happy with his performance. I said that he broke out last week, and this week he proved me correct. He has a way better command of the offense. He was flashing against an excellent Steelers defense with his arms and legs. He rushed for nearly 50 yards while passing for almost three hundred yards. It might not be meant to be this year, but Justin Fields is the franchise.