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Wednesday, 12 December, 2018

Racing Post Sport NFL Power Rankings: Rams stay top of the list

All 32 teams ranked from best to worst

Running back Todd Gurley has been a star turn for the Los Angeles Rams
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Each week, we will list the 32 NFL teams in order of best to worst and see how far each one climbs up or falls down the list during the course of the regular season.

Here's this week's 1-32:

Last week's rankings

1 Los Angeles Rams (unchanged)
Record: 2-0
Last week: Won 34-0 at home to Arizona
This week: Seven-point favourites at home to LA Chargers

The Cardinals look to be in a mess, but the Rams are flying and even coped with an injury to place kicker Greg Zuerlein. It's been a great start.

Jacksonville Jaguars (up four)
Record: 2-0
Last week: Won 31-20 at home to New England
This week: 6.5-point favourites at home to Tennessee

A win over the Patriots, avenging their AFC Championship defeat last season, should act as a massive tonic for the Jaguars, who looked a better offence even without star running back Leonard Fournette.

3 Minnesota Vikings (down one)
Record: 1-0-1
Last week: Tied 29-29 at Green Bay
This week: 16.5-point favourites at home to Buffalo

The Vikings were a missed field goal away from victory over their arch rivals and will be disappointed they were unable to take a firm grip on the NFC North. The deflation felt after the tie should maintain their hunger though.

4 Kansas City Chiefs (up one)
Record: 2-0
Last week: Won 42-37 at Pittsburgh
This week: 6.5-point favourites at home to San Francisco

Quarterback Patrick Mahomes is proving a revelation and memories of Alex Smith seem distant. Their dynamic offence is great to watch and they look destined for an exciting campaign.

5 Philadelphia Eagles (down two)
Record: 1-1
Last week: Lost 27-21 at Tampa Bay
This week: 6.5-point favourites at home to Indianapolis

Defeat to the Bucs has to be a disappointment but expect them to bounce back, especially as quarterback Carson Wentz could return for this week's clash against the Colts. 

6 New England Patriots (down two)
Record: 1-1
Last week: Lost 31-20 at Jacksonville
This week: 6.5-point favourites at Detroit

A loss to the Jaguars hardly means it is back to the drawing board for New England but it did demonstrate that their path to the Super Bowl could be tougher than ever this season.

7 New Orleans Saints (up one)
Record: 1-1
Last week: Won 21-18 at home to Cleveland
This week: Three-point underdogs at Atlanta

The Saints limped over the line against the Browns, who once again shot themselves in the foot. The close nature of their victory should enable Sean Payton's talented squad to kick on.

8 Green Bay Packers (up one)
Record: 1-0-1
Last week: Tied 29-29 at home to Minnesota
This week: Three-point favourites at Washington

The Packers scrapped it out to tie with Minnesota and will still have to rely on Aaron Rodgers if they are to make progress this season. Still, they are at the top of the NFC North so life is good.

9 Baltimore Ravens (down two)
Record: 1-1
Last week: Lost 34-23 at Cincinnati
This week: Five-point favourites at home to Denver

The Ravens were brought back to earth after their thumping win over Buffalo, but the potential is still there for them to make a push for the AFC North, especially given Pittsburgh's current travails.

10 Atlanta Falcons (up one)
Record: 1-1
Last week: Won 31-24 at home to Carolina
This week: Three-point favourites at home to Atlanta

A valuable divisional win brought the Falcons back on track after a disappointing opener against Philadelphia. They have to keep taking their chances in the red zone though if they are to become an issue in the NFC South.

11 Carolina Panthers (down one)
Record: 1-1
Last week: Lost 31-24 at Atlanta
This week: Three-point underdogs at home to Cincinnati

The Panthers' defence struggled against Atlanta but they won't be the last team to suffer that fate this season. The performance of their offensive line was a big plus.

12 Los Angeles Chargers (up one)
Record: 1-1
Last week: Won 31-20 at Buffalo
This week: Seven-point underdogs at Los Angeles Rams

it is difficult to gauge how much value there will be in a victory over a team as poor as the Bills but at least they got off the mark. Their playoff credentials will have a serious test this week.

13 Cincinnati Bengals (up two)
Record: 2-0
Last week: Won 34-23 at home to Baltimore
This week: Three-point underdogs at Carolina

The Bengals' offensive problems seem firmly behind them and a win over the Ravens will provide a decent confidence boost, especially as it seems the AFC North has opened up.

14 Pittsburgh Steelers (down two)
Record: 0-1-1
Last week: Lost 42-37 at home to Kansas City
This week: One-point favourites at Tampa Bay

The Steelers were fortunate to get away with a tie at Cleveland and the problems are mounting with Le'Veon Bell still not playing ball and rumours that Antonio Brown could be traded. It's not a happy camp.

15 Denver Broncos (up one)
Record: 2-0
Last week: Won 20-19 at home to Oakland
This week: Five-point underdogs at Baltimore

The Broncos will face tougher tests than their openers against Seattle and the Raiders, both of which were won by slim margins. Baltimore provide much stronger opposition.

16 New York Jets (down two)
Record: 1-1
Last week: Lost 20-12 at home to Miami
This week: Three-point underdogs at Cleveland

The Jets couldn't get going after their fine opening display at Detroit but it seems harsh for them to fall too far. There has been little evidence to suggest that a 8-8 season is not a realistic target.

17 Tampa Bay Buccaneers (up two)
Record: 2-0
Last week: Won 27-21 at home to Philadelphia
This week: One-point underdogs at home to Pittsburgh

Victories over New Orleans and the Eagles have made folk stand up and listen. The Bucs are clearly not whipping boys and quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick is flying, so they could be playing Pittsburgh at the right time.

18 Miami Dolphins (unchanged)
Record: 2-0
Last week: Won 20-12 at New York Jets
This week: Three-point favourites at home to Oakland

The Dolphins are at the top of the AFC East and the potential is there for them to continue their progress, especially against the Raiders who look no great shakes.

19 San Francisco 49ers (up one)
Record: 1-1
Last week: Won 30-27 at home to Detroit
This week: 6.5-point underdogs at Kansas City

The Niners managed to get over the line against Detroit, but they lost against Minnesota in their opener and could be the sort of side who only manage to beat a certain calibre of opposition. We'll see against the Chiefs.

20 Washington Redskins (down three)
Record: 1-1
Last week: Lost 21-9 at home to Indianapolis
This week: Three-point underdogs at home to Green Bay

Even though Andrew Luck is back, there is little to take from a defeat to the Colts. They need a strong performance against the Packers but it looks as if an easy victory over Arizona is not going to do much for the value of their stock.

21 Chicago Bears (up one)
Record: 1-1
Last week: Won 24-17 at home to Seattle
This week: Six-point favourites at Arizona

The Bears completed the job against Seattle to bounce back from the disappointment of the remarkable comeback they witnessed from Green Bay the week before. A win was vital and they can push on from here.

22 Cleveland Browns (down one)
Record: 0-1-1
Last week: Lost 21-18 at New Orleans
This week: Three-point favourites at home to New York Jets

Another chance of a win slipped through the Browns' fingers at New Orleans and now wide receiver Josh Gordon has departed. The defence is playing well but, at the moment, it's not enough.

23 Dallas Cowboys (up three)
Record: 1-1
Last week: Won 20-13 at home to New York Giants
This week: 1.5-point underdogs at Seattle

A clash with their rivals the Giants can usually be relied upon to stir the spirits in Dallas and confidence will be boosted by a victory, even if the standard of opposition wasn't great. They have three winnable games against Seattle, Detroit and Houston now to push their season on.

24 Tennessee Titans (up three)
Record: 1-1
Last week: Won 20-17 at home to Houston
This week: 6.5-point underdogs at Jacksonville

A victory against Houston was valuable in terms of the AFC South but the main concern has to be over the fitness of quarterback Marcus Mariota, who missed that win. We'll have to see how that affects their progress.

25 Houston Texans (down two)
Record: 0-2
Last week: Lost 20-17 at Tennessee
This week: Six-point favourites at home to the New York Giants

The Texans are desperate for a win to exorcise the demons of their 4-12 campaign last term and they don't have the excuse that their star names are injured. A clash with the Giants should give them a good opportunity to grab that first win.

26 New York Giants (down two)
Record: 0-2
Last week: Lost 20-13 at Dallas
This week: Six-point underdogs at Houston

While their defeat to Jacksonville was plucky, their loss to Dallas was poor. The offence is struggling despite the promise of rookie running back Saquon Barkley and the Houston defence will provide another tough test.

27 Seattle Seahawks (down two)
Record: 0-2
Last week: Lost 24-17 at Chicago
This week: 1.5-point favourites at home to Dallas

The offensive line has to start helping Russell Wilson or the Seahawks are going nowhere fast. He was sacked six times against the Bears and the Cowboys provide more tough opposition.

28 Indianapolis Colts (up one)
Record: 1-1
Last week: Won 21-9 at Washington
This week: 6.5-point underdogs at Philadelphia

The Colts got off the mark last week and restricting Washington to nine points will have been a big tonic, but they have to show more if they are to be a factor in the AFC South.

29 Detroit Lions (down one)
Record: 0-2
Last week: Lost 30-27 at San Francisco
This week: 6.5-point underdogs at home to New England

Another defeat for the Bears and 78 points conceded in Matt Patricia's two games at the helm. His players will have to be charged up as much as he will be for the Sunday night clash against his former team.

30 Oakland Raiders (unchanged)
Record: 0-2
Last week: Lost 20-19 at Denver
This week: Three-point underdogs at Miami

The Raiders kept it tight against Denver, which will have provided returning coach Jon Gruden with some optimism, but they have a long way to go in what looks a competitive AFC West.

31 Buffalo Bills (up one)
Record: 0-2
Last week: Lost 31-20 at home to Los Angeles Chargers
This week: 16.5-point underdogs at Minnesota

The Bills lost but moved up the charts mainly on the basis that life is so dismal in Arizona at the moment. Scoring 20 points against a decent defence should at least lighten their mood after their opening-day humbling at Baltimore.

32 Arizona Cardinals (down one)
Record: 0-2
Last week: Lost 34-0 at home to the Los Angeles Rams
This week: Six-point underdogs at home to Chicago

Six points in two matches means that many of the pre-season fears surrounding the Cardinals look set to be realised. Rookie quarterback Josh Rosen looks set to surface sooner rather than later.

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Quarterback Patrick Mahomes is proving a revelation and memories of Alex Smith seem distant.
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