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Blake Pace’s NFL power rankings through Week Seven

NFL: New England Patriots at New York Jets Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

Third time around, let’s do the dang thing.

The one thing I’ll say about this year compared to last season, it was pretty clear by this point in 2018 that the four best teams were New England, Kansas City, Los Angeles (Rams) and New Orleans. Now, I don’t think we’re anywhere near that top four — I think there are around eight teams that could make it to the AFC and NFC championship games. I’m assuming I’ll feel more confident about a “top four” by Week 9 or 10, but even then I think there’s a chance some teams are pretenders and some have yet to completely hit their stride.

Anywho, let’s take a look at my NFL power rankings through seven weeks of the NFL season with some brief comments on each team.

32. The Miami Dolphins (0-6) / LW: 31

Miami led at a certain point during this game — that’s something nice to say. This team makes me sleepy and, yes, they’ll stay here through the end of the regular season.

31. The Cincinnati Bengals (0-7) / LW: 30

This team also makes me sleepy. Trade away your older players to accumulate draft picks, maybe give Ryan Finley a shot at quarterback for the second half of the season, and do your best to stay in contention for the No. 1 pick in the 2020 NFL Draft.

30. The Washington Redskins (1-6) / LW: 31

Alight, this is the last team that makes me sleepy — the first team in quite some time to cover the spread (+10) without scoring a point. This one was fun to watch for the waterslide highlights, but I have no interest in DC football for the rest of the season.

29. The Atlanta Falcons (1-6) / LW: 25

Now this team, this team makes me mad. I thought they’d be so good, yet they have even more problems than they did in 2018. Now Matt Ryan is hurt, Dan Quinn won’t make it to 2020 and a top five pick could be on the horizon.

28. The New York Jets (1-5) / LW: 29

To all my friends that are Jets fans, I tried to tell you. Sam Darnold looked great against the Dallas secondary, but the Cowboys look great when they’re on and absolutely awful when they’re not — it just so happens the Jets faced them when they were not. I don’t think Adam Gase is the long-term answer here as head coach, but that roster would’ve been decimated by New England no matter who was coaching them up.

27. The New York Giants (2-5) / LW: 25

Pat Shurmur looks lost as a head coach so far this year and, despite my vote of confidence in him once he made Daniel Jones the starter, I’m starting to wonder how long he’ll last as the head coach. Personnel-wise they still have massive holes in their linebacking core and secondary and their offensive line still needs help too.

26. The Denver Broncos (2-5) / LW: 26

Joe Flacco looked absolutely lost on Thursday, and now Broncos fans are left hoping Drew Lock is the answer to all of John Elway’s questions. Denver has officially given up on the season, trading away Emmanuel Sanders with Chris Harris Jr. probably next in line. Here’s to 2020 with a quality quarterback (hopefully), a healthy Bradley Chubb and a rejuvenated offensive line.

25. The Los Angeles Chargers (2-5) / LW: 24

This team loves to find new ways to lose games. That loss to Ryan Tannehill and the Titans was horrid, after many chances to tie the game at the least, and now we’re going to start having a lot of questions around the future — even at quarterback. This offseason might be the time that LA finally drafts a Philip Rivers replacement in the first round, with maybe one year on the bench before ol’ man Rivers calls it quits.

24. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-4) / LW: 27

Tampa Bay didn’t play and somehow moved up three spots, but that shows just how disappointed I was in the Giants, Chargers and Broncos. Jameis Winston will give them another chance to fall right back down, however, especially if they don’t show up in Nashville this weekend.

23. The Pittsburgh Steelers (2-4) / LW: 22

Pittsburgh also had the week off, and only moved down a spot because I was really impressed by the team one slot ahead of them. Pittsburgh better show up this Monday against Miami, as the Dolphins already own the Steelers’ first-round pick — something that already looks to be in the top 10 range.

22. The Arizona Cardinals (3-3-1) / LW: 23

Listen, I love watching Kyler Murray play. He didn’t have the greatest game through the air, but just watching him scramble and evade defenders makes me feel pretty good about his long-term potential. This team still has a lot to fix, but I think we can all say we’re surprised they’re sitting here at .500 through seven weeks.

21. The Tennessee Titans (3-4) / LW: 21

Ryan Tannehill seems like he can do the one thing Mike Vrabel wants from his quarterback — the ability to put up points. It wasn’t pretty, and they should’ve lost this game, but Tennessee has a great defense with young playmakers on offense. This is a team I’d be very excited about in 2020 if they take a quarterback in the first round of the draft.

20. The Cleveland Browns (2-4) / LW: 20

I feel like I still might be too high on the Browns. I certainly don’t expect them to look adequate against the Patriots this week, but they’ll have a chance to win four of the next five after that with games against the Broncos, Bills, Steelers (x2) and Dolphins. Maybe some easy wins will bring Cleveland’s swagger back.

19. The Chicago Bears (3-3) / LW: 17

Bleh, this team makes me want to yak. How soon is it that Ryan Pace and Matt Nagy can give up on Mitch Trubisky? Could they trade for Nick Foles if Gardner Minshew proves he can be the future in Jacksonville? Mitch really limits this team’s potential, and Pace will go down in the history books solely as the guy who drafted Trubisky ahead of Pat Mahomes and Deshaun Watson.

18. The Oakland Raiders (3-3) / LW: 19

I was impressed with how the Raiders showed up in the first half of that game against Green Bay. Oakland has its issues, but I’m almost excited to see this team move to Las Vegas with young, fun players like Josh Jacobs, Darren Waller and Johnathan Abrams and a kooky head coach like Jon Gruden.

17. The Jacksonville Jaguars (3-4) / LW: 18

This Jacksonville team is just weird to me. The Minshew-Mania craze has started to fade away, but they’re still showing up in every week and keeping each game close. If they can take care of the Jets this week, they’ll be at .500 with a solid chance of turning their season around.

16. The Philadelphia Eagles (3-4) / LW: 13

This team will continue to fall as long as they look inconsistent on both sides of the ball. Carson Wentz has looked great at times, but shaky as well. This secondary has some major issues, and that’s an Achilles heel in a league that’s so pass-heavy.

15. The Detroit Lions (2-3-1) / LW: 9

I thought the reason the Lions secondary was allowing so many yards through the air was because it had faced Aaron Rodgers and Pat Mahomes this year ... now I know it’s just bad. No reason Kirk Cousins should throw for 300+ and four scores on you if you’re one of the better teams in football.

14. The Minnesota Vikings (5-2) / LW: 16

Kirk Cousins is setting you all up again. Three great games against bad secondaries, and another this Thursday against the Redskins. I think we’re looking at a team that’ll be 7-4 or 8-3 by December, but will finish the season at 8-8 or 9-7 and just miss the postseason.

13. The Dallas Cowboys (4-3) / LW: 14

Speaking of teams I think are frauds, I’m not too convinced with Dallas just because they beat up on the Eagles. They’re the frontrunners to win what I call the NFC “L”east, but I just think Dallas is the better team in a not-so-great division.

12. The Carolina Panthers (4-2) / LW: 12

Big game coming up for Carolina, taking on the undefeated San Francisco 49ers this weekend. If they can keep things close with Kyle Allen I’ll be convinced the Panthers will be in the fight for a wild card spot.

11. The Houston Texans (4-3) / LW: 11

The formula for the Texans is simple: when Deshaun Watson doesn’t turn the ball over or get sacked, they win. When he gets sacked and turns the ball over, they lose. The Colts did a great job of putting constant pressure on Watson, but this team still has the capabilities of making a run at the playoffs if Watson can lead them there on his own.

10. The Los Angeles Rams (4-3) / LW: 8

Am I supposed to be impressed by the Rams destroying one of the worst defenses in football? Great way to get Jared Goff feeling confident again, but I’m still a little worried about how they’ll fare against top-tier defenses.

9. The Seattle Seahawks (5-2)/ LW: 6

Seattle needs Russell Wilson to play flawlessly in order to win games, that’s just the simple truth. He was solid on Sunday but made some mistakes, and Baltimore was able to capitalize on the opportunity. The Seahawks are still a solid team, and getting Quandre Diggs aids their pitiful safety group, but I’d be hesitant to put full confidence in their chances this season.

8. The Indianapolis Colts (4-2) / LW: 10

Keep on climbing, Indy. The Texans did their best to limit the prolific rushing attack that the Colts have had so far this season, but probably didn’t expect Jacoby Brissett to go off against their secondary. While you’d love to see a balanced rush/pass attack each week, it’s nice knowing that Indianapolis can still win even if one of the two can’t get going.

7. The Baltimore Ravens (5-2) / LW: 15

Solid win by the Ravens, taking one in Seattle against a tough Seahawks team and making the biggest leap in my power rankings this time around. Lamar Jackson didn’t have the greatest day throwing, but when you can add 100+ yards and a touchdown on the ground that’ll certainly make up for other shortcomings.

6. The Buffalo Bills (5-1) / LW: 7

Yikes. Not a quality win from Buffalo at all, but they were able to hold off the Dolphins to improve to 6-1. I think that game was mostly a trap, taking on a far less talented team off a bye, and expect Buffalo to be cruising to a 9-3 record at the least by Thanksgiving.

5. The Kansas City Chiefs (5-2) / LW: 5

I can’t state how heartbroken I am that Pat Mahomes won’t be on the field Sunday when taking on the Packers and Aaron Rodgers — the game I was most looking forward to before the season kicked off. This offense will get extremely crafty in Mahomes absence, and I think Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy gets a head-coaching gig based off the work he does in the next few weeks with Matt Moore under center.

4. The New Orleans Saints (6-1) / LW: 4

If Frank Reich wasn’t doing what he is in Indy this season, Sean Payton would probably be the runaway favorite for coach of the year. The work he was able to do with Teddy Bridgewater has kept the Saints in great position to take one of the top seeds in the NFC, and Drew Brees, Alvin Kamara and Jared Cook should all be back fairly soon. Job well done, I can honestly say I didn’t expect it.

3. The San Fransisco 49ers (6-0) / LW: 3

Not the easiest win for the 49ers but, given the conditions, they still were solid on defense and put themselves in a position to escape Washington without their first loss. I’m still waiting out my final decision on how much faith I want to put in Jimmy Garoppolo, but Emmanuel Sanders is a good addition to a receiving corp that doesn’t pop off the page.

2. The Green Bay Packers (6-1) / LW: 2

When Aaron Rodgers plays above average, this is a really good team. When he plays outstanding, this team looks like it could beat just about anyone. I think Green Bay, San Fransisco and New Orleans are all great teams, but I want Rodgers as my quarterback if I’m going to be the best in the NFC.

1. The New England Patriots (7-0) / LW: 1

Was beating the Jets 33-0 good enough for everybody? This Patriots team is so great, they’ve got ghosts playing as the 12th and 13th men on defense. Seriously though, New England is far ahead the rest of the pack — even if you don’t want to admit it until their schedule gets tougher.