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Patriots back to the head of affairs

Chiefs slip two spots after pair of defeats

New England tight end Rob Gronkowski
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Each week, we will rank the 32 NFL teams from the best to worst based on their prospects for the rest of the season, so we can see who is looking stronger as the campaign progresses and who is falling down the ladder.


Last week's rankings


1 New England Patriots (up one)
Record: 5-2
Last week: Won 23-7 at home to Atlanta
This week: 7.5-point favourites at home to LA Chargers

The Patriots have had their fair share of wobbles in the first seven weeks, but their defence should feel a lot more confident after holding the Falcons to just seven points. A Week 15 showdown with Pittsburgh looks the only game they have left where they won't be favoured by a touchdown, so their schedule looks attractive too. 


2 Pittsburgh Steelers (up one)
Record: 5-2
Last week: Won 29-14 at home to Cincinnati
This week: Three-point favourites at Detroit

The Steelers have taken a firm grip of the AFC North with three divisional wins. They have conceded 14 or fewer points in four of their last six matches and have stepped up since their shock defeat to Jacksonville three weeks ago. They look playoff bound.


3 Kansas City Chiefs (down two)
Record: 5-2
Last week: Lost 31-30 at Oakland
This week: 7.5-point favourites at home to Denver

After winning their first five games, the Chiefs slipped up against Oakland after taking a nine-point lead into the final quarter. They have to be more ruthless if they are to make a deep push this year and can ill-afford another slip-up against the Broncos. Suddenly, the AFC West is looking a competitive heat.


4 Seattle Seahawks (=)
Record: 4-2
Last week: Won 24-7 at New York Giants
This week: 5.5-point favourites at home to Houston

A victory over the Giants may not be much to shout about but Russell Wilson stepped up in the second half with three touchdown passes to see them to their fourth win. They showed they can be patient and for a team who have been there and done it, that is a great asset as they look set to battle it out with the Rams in the NFC West. 


5 Philadelphia Eagles (up three)
Record: 6-1
Last week: Won 34-24 at home to Washington
This week: 13-point favourites at home to San Francisco

The Eagles have the best record in the league and quarterback Carson Wentz continues to earn all the plaudits. They have three divisional wins to their name and two of them were against Washington. The loss of offensive tackle Jason Peters with a knee injury is a big blow though.


6 Minnesota Vikings (=)
Record: 5-2
Last week: Won 24-16 at home to Baltimore
This week: 9.5-point favourites against Cleveland at Twickenham

The Vikings have had their injury problems but Case Keenum is standing in well for Sam Bradford at quarterback and Latavius Murray was excellent in their win against the Ravens. Their strong defence give them a great chance against anyone in the league.


7 Atlanta Falcons (down two)
Record: 3-3
Last week: Lost 23-7 at New England
This week: 4.5-point favourites at New York Jets

The Falcons may have been geared up for Super Bowl revenge against the Patriots but they were sloppy and didn't get going. Atlanta have suffered three consecutive defeats and they cannot afford to take things easy against the Jets, who have not been the fall guys many anticipated.


8 Dallas Cowboys (up one)
Record: 3-3
Last week: Won 40-10 at San Francisco
This week: 2.5-point favourites in Washington

The Cowboys cruised in San Francisco with Ezekiel Elliott in the team and this week's clash against Washington could be pivotal. It is the first of five remaining divisional games, including two against the Eagles, so there is still scope for them to progress, even though they have some difficult fixtures remaining. 


9 Green Bay Packers (down two)
Record: 4-3
Last week: Lost 26-17 at home to New Orleans
This week: Bye

The Packers found out just how difficult life will be without Aaron Rodgers last week. His replacement Brett Hundley scored a rushing touchdown, but a player of Rodgers's quality is just irreplaceable. Their bye week provides a good opportunity to analyse where exactly they go from here.


10 Tennessee Titans (up two)
Record: 4-3
Last week: Won 12-9 at Cleveland
This week: Bye

Successive wins over Indianapolis and Cleveland are nothing but what would have been expected in Nashville and they are struggling offensively, but their defensive play was excellent against the Browns and that should stand them in good stead. A bye week should be a good time to help quarterback Marcus Mariota recuperate from his recent hamstring injury.


11 New Orleans Saints (up two)
Record: 4-2
Last week: Won 26-17 at Green Bay
This week: Nine-point favourites at home to Chicago

With Atlanta and Carolina struggling with inconsistency, the NFC South looks to be up for grabs and the Saints are top of the pile. They have claimed four victories since losing their first two matches and just three of their final ten opponents head into this week with a winning record.


12 Denver Broncos (down two)
Record: 3-3
Last week: Lost 21-0 at Los Angeles Chargers
This week: 7.5-point underdogs at Kansas City

The competitive nature of the AFC West means that Denver are still in the thick of the action, but they remain too inconsistency to bank on with any confidence. Sunday's defeat in LA was another abject offensive display and their strong defence can only do so much.


13 Carolina Panthers (down two)
Record: 4-3
Last week: Lost 17-3 at Chicago
This week: 2.5-point underdogs at Tampa Bay

The Panthers have not got their running game going despite the encouraging drafting of Christian McCaffrey and their receivers are not providing much of a deep threat either. They have also gone six games without an interception, so while they cannot be put among the also-rans yet, they need to buck their ideas up.


14 Oakland Raiders (up one)
Record: 3-4
Last week: Won 31-30 at home to Kansas City
This week: 2.5-point underdogs at Buffalo

A ray of sunshine for the Raiders came with their win over the Chiefs, when Derek Carr directed an excellent fourth-quarter comeback. However, their road form needs to improve if they are to make more progress and just three of their remaining games are at the Coliseum. It's going to be tough. 


15 Tampa Bay Buccaneers (down one)
Record: 2-4
Last week: Lost 30-27 at Buffalo
This week: 2.5-point favourites at home to Carolina

The Buccaneers should be encouraged by an excellent two-touchdown performance from rookie tight end OJ Howard, but they already have ground to make up in what should prove a tight division. Their next two games against the Panthers and New Orleans will go a long way towards defining their season.


16 Detroit Lions (=)
Record: 3-3
Last week: Bye
This week: Three-point underdogs at home to Pittsburgh

The Lions won three of their opening four matches but were left licking their wounds against Carolina and New Orleans. Their defence needs to return from the bye in the sort of form they showed in the opening weeks and, if that happens, they can be a force in the NFC North now that the Packers have been weakened by Rodgers's injury. 


17 Jacksonville Jaguars (up two)
Record: 4-3
Last week: Won 27-0 at Indianapolis
This week: Bye

The Jaguars have had their problems over the last few years but while Blake Bortles might not be the most celebrated quarterback in the league, their defence is right up there. If they can get rookie running back Leonard Fournette back on the field quickly - this week's bye could prove a godsend - then they can be a force in the second half of the campaign.


18 Washington Redskins (=)
Record: 3-3
Last week: Lost 34-24 at Philadelphia
This week: 2.5-point underdogs at home to Dallas

Two defeats against the Eagles have left Washington with plenty to do in the NFC East.This week's clash with the Cowboys is crucial, but they have given up 87 points in their last three games and their offensive line which has been struggling with injuries. It's going to be tough.


19 Los Angeles Rams (up four)
Record: 5-2
Last week: Won 33-0 against Arizona at Twickenham
This week: Bye

The Rams keep climbing. The Cardinals were brushed aside with Jared Goff continuing to grow at quarterback and Todd Gurley putting up some great figures in the running game. They should enjoy their bye week and there is potential for further rises for a strong all-round team.


20 Arizona Cardinals (down three)
Record: 3-4
Last week: Lost 33-0 against Los Angeles Rams at Twickenham
This week: Bye

All the optimism of Adrian Peterson's arrival quickly evaporated in a listless display at Twickenham. Quarterback Carson Palmer was injured and there is now talk about the future of coach Bruce Arians. It looks to be back to the drawing board.


21 Miami Dolphins (=)
Record: 4-2
Last week: Won 31-28 at home to New York Jets
This week: three-point underdogs at Baltimore

The Dolphins have won their last three matches and there will be some delighted to see Matt Moore stand in for the injured Jay Cutler. They need to get their offence going - only Cleveland have scored a lower average number of points - but they could be heading in the right direction.


22 Buffalo Bills (=)
Record: 4-2
Last week: Won 30-27 at home to Tampa Bay
This week: 2.5-point favourites at home to Oakland

Like Miami, Buffalo are doing their best to stay on New England's coattails in the AFC East. The value of their victories over Denver and Atlanta may have taken a bit of a hit over the last few weeks, but they have a strong defence and quarterback Tyrod Taylor performed well against the Buccaneers.


23 Baltimore Ravens (down three)
Record: 3-4
Last week: Lost 24-16 at Minnesota
This week: Three-point favourites at home to Miami

The Ravens are struggling offensively - they have the lowest average number of passing yards in the league - and the only team they have beaten in their last five outings have been Oakland and that was when the Raiders were without injured quarterback Derek Carr. They look to have lost their way.


24 Los Angeles Chargers (up one)
Record: 3-4
Last week: Won 21-0 at home to Denver
This week: 7.5-point underdogs at New England

Three successive wins have saved the Chargers season after a dismal start and claiming a good win in their new home will have done wonders for their confidence. They still have the ability to trouble any team in the league and they have put themselves right back int he picture.


25 Houston Texans (down one)
Record: 3-3
Last week: Bye
This week: 5.5-point underdogs at Seattle

The Texans emerge from their week off with a tough game at Seattle, but they should still be in with a chance of winning the AFC South without star defensive end JJ Watt. After all, they did it last year. Only four home matches remain though and Houston face some tough trips. 


26 Chicago Bears (up two)
Record: 3-4
Last week: Won 17-3 at home to Carolina
This week: Nine-point underdogs at New Orleans

The defence contributed two touchdowns to their win over the Panthers and rookie quarterback Mitchell Trubisky plainly has a lot to learn about playing in the NFL, but the Bears could yet be a force in the NFC North now Aaron Rodgers is injured. Divisional games against the Packers and Detroit in their two games after this week will tell us if they have what it takes. 


27 Cincinnati Bengals (down one)
Record: 2-4
Last week: Lost 29-14 at Pittsburgh
This week: Ten-point favourites at home to Indianapolis

The early problems with the Bengals offence seem to have remained as they failed to move the board in the second half against the Steelers. Quarterback Andy Dalton is being offered little protection and they will feel they need a morale-boosting win against the Colts. Defeat for them would be unimaginable.


28 New York Giants (down one)
Record: 1-6
Last week: Lost 24-7 at home to Seattle
This week: Bye

The Giants are banged up and while Eli Manning has few offensive options it is difficult to see them digging themselves out of a hole. The veteran quarterback is hardly inspiring confidence anyway and it looks like being a difficult second half to the campaign.


29 Indianapolis Colts (=)
Record: 2-5
Last week: Lost 27-0 at home to Jacksonville
This week: Ten-point underdogs at Cincinnati

The Colts were shut out for the first time since 1993 against the Jaguars and the knives are out for coach Chuck Pagano. Andrew Luck may be injured but Jacoby Brissett was sacked ten times last week as the offensive line capitulated. It's turning into an awful season.


30 New York Jets (=)
Record: 3-4
Last week: Lost 31-28 at Miami
This week: 4.5-point underdogs at home to Atlanta

Perhaps it is a bit harsh, but it is difficult to go up the rankings after suffering a divisional defeat. It probably won't be long before the Jets extract themselves from the deadwood, but it shows how lowly they were though of at the beginning of the season that they are still in the depths. A win over the Falcons would help their cause no end.


31 San Francisco 49ers (=)
Record: 0-7
Last week: Lost 40-10 at home to Dallas
This week: 13-point underdogs at Philadelphia

After a series of close defeats, the 49ers were in no danger of giving the Cowboys much of a game last week. There is plenty of head coach Kyle Shanahan to work on in the remainder of the season and the remainder of the campaign should be spent helping his young roster gain experience.


32 Cleveland Browns
Record: 0-7
Last week: Lost 12-9 at home to Tennessee
This week: 9.5-point underdogs against Minnesota at Twickenham

The Browns got to overtime against Tennessee last week but still couldn't get over the line. Frequent changes at quarterback cannot be helping. Perhaps a change of environment with their trip to London may help them? The only way is up.


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A Week 15 showdown with Pittsburgh looks the only game they have left where they won't be favoured by a touchdown
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