Racing Post Sport NFL power rankings: Saints stay top with NFC top spot in view
LA Chargers continue surge with brave two-point conversion to down Chiefs
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:
1 New Orleans Saints unchanged
Last week: Won 12-9 at Carolina
This week: 5.5-point favourites at home to Pittsburgh
The Saints did not have to be at that best to secure another divisional win and the NFC number-one seeding now looks theirs for the taking. That would be a huge boost as it would mean they could win the Super Bowl without playing another game at an outdoor venue.
2 Los Angeles Rams unchanged
Last week: Lost 30-23 at home to Philadelphia
This week: 14-point favourites at Arizona
The Rams suffered a second straight defeat and it seems defences are starting to get the measure of quarterback Jared Goff. Their week off at the start of the playoffs could be in jeopardy.
3 Los Angeles Chargers up two
Last week: Won 29-28 at Kansas City
This week: 4.5-point favourites at home to Baltimore
The Chargers were brave in going for a last-gasp two-point conversion to claim a win over the Chiefs and they now have a decent chance of capturing the top seeding in the AFC. The Ravens will be no pushover, though.
4 Kansas City Chiefs down one
Last week: Lost 29-28 at home to Los Angeles Chargers
This week: 2.5-point favourites at Seattle
Kansas City now have a fight on their hands having held the AFC's top spot for most of the season. The Seahawks are still fighting for their lives but confidence should still be high.
5 Houston Texans up two
Last week: Won 29-22 at New York Jets
This week: 1.5-point favourites at Philadelphia
New England's defeat to Pittsburgh means the Texans are in pole position to avoid the wildcard round. That would boost their chances hugely.
6 Chicago Bears unchanged
Last week: Won 24-17 at home to Green Bay
This week: Four-point favourites at San Francisco
Chicago are breathing down the Rams' neck but tough trips to the Niners and the Vikings remain. The quality of their defence will mean, however, that this improving team will have nothing to fear.
7 New England Patriots down three
Last week: Lost 17-10 at Pittsburgh
This week: 12.5-point favourites at home to Buffalo
The Patriots are having an unfamiliar wobble with two straight defeats and five losses in eight away matches means they will be desperate to ensure they do not slip into the wildcard picture. However, games against the Bills and Jets look ideal.
8 Minnesota Vikings unchanged
Last week: Won 41-17 at home to Miami
This week: 5.5-point favourites at home to Detroit
The Vikings looked a much stronger offensive outfit against the Dolphins, particularly on the ground but a win over the Lions may not be enough to see them home.
9 Pittsburgh Steelers unchanged
Last week: Won 17-10 at home to New England
This week: 5.5-point underdogs at New Orleans
Victory over the Patriots gave the Steelers a huge lift after three straight defeats and the emergence of rusher Jaylen Samuels is a timely boost for coach Mike Tomlin.
10 Baltimore Ravens unchanged
Last week: Won 20-12 at home to Tampa Bay
This week: 4.5-point underdogs at Los Angeles Chargers
The Chiefs are the only team to have beaten Baltimore in the Ravens' last five outings and their rushing game which incorporates new quarterback Lamar Jackson is paying dividends. They look like a team who are going places.
11 Philadelphia Eagles unchanged
Last week: Won 30-23 at Los Angeles Rams
This week: 1.5-point underdogs at home to Houston
Nick Foles inspired the Super Bowl champions against his former club and they are right back in the mix after their success over the Rams. Expect wide receiver Alshon Jeffery to be a deep threat in the absence of Carson Wentz.
12 Tennessee Titans up two
Last week: Won 17-0 at New York Giants
This week: Ten-point favourites at home to Washington
The Titans are sneaking into the wildcard picture following three straight wins and a trip to the struggling Redskins looks to have come at the ideal time. They can force their way into the picture.
13 Indianapolis Colts up two
Last week: Won 23-0 at home to Dallas
This week: nine-point favourites at home to New York Giants
The Colts will do their upmost to ensure that the Titans' threat is nullified. They are beginning to look the real deal, as a comprehensive victory over the NFC East leaders last week demonstrated.
14 Seattle Seahawks down two
Last week: Lost 26-23 at San Francisco
This week: 2.5-point underdogs at home to Kansas City
The Seahawks put in a dogged performance against the Niners before falling in overtime and their task would have been a lot easier had they come out on top. A win over the Chiefs is crucial but they should never be ruled out at CenturyLink Field.
15 Dallas Cowboys down two
Last week: Lost 23-0 at Indianapolis
This week: Seven-point favourites at home to Tampa Bay
An ineffective show against the Colts has left the Cowboys looking over their shoulder. Their final two opponents have ten victories between them so if they don't gain enough from clashes with the Bucs and the Giants, they probably don't deserve to get into the playoffs.
16 Cleveland Browns up one
Last week: Won 17-16 at Denver
This week: Seven-point favourites at home to Cincinnati
The Browns are finishing the campaign strongly and quarterback Baker Mayfield looks capable of having a big season next year. There are probably too many teams in the queue for them to reach the playoffs but the general outlook has to be one of optimism.
17 Miami Dolphins down one
Last week: Lost 41-17 at Minnesota
This week: Four-point favourites at home to Jacksonville
The Dolphins suffered a big comedown after their dramatic victory over New england the previous week and pre-season predictions of them having an 8-8 season look likely to be realised.
18 Carolina Panthers unchanged
Last week: Lost 12-9 at home to New Orleans
This week: Three-point favourites at home to Carolina
Six straight defeats have left the Panthers in tatters and there are questions marks whether quarterback Cam Newton will be risked for the remaining two matches. It is definitely a case of what might have been.
19 Green Bay Packers unchanged
Last week: Lost 24-17 at Chicago
This week: Pick 'em match at New York Jets
Defeat against their arch-rivals in Chicago was probably the icing on the cake in a dismal season. The fact they are not favoured to beat the Jets this week speaks volumes.
20 Atlanta Falcons up three
Last week: Won 40-17 at home to Arizona
This week: Three-point underdogs at Carolina
A win over the Cardinals was too little, too late. At least it stopped the rot after five defeats and was the first time during that run that they have scored more than 20 points.
21 Denver Broncos down one
Last week: Lost 17-16 at home to Cleveland
This week: 2.5-point favourites at Oakland
The Broncos' hopes were finally extinguished by their loss to the Browns and it will be a struggle for them to claim a .500 season as they finish with a clash against the Chargers.
22 New York Giants down one
Last week: Lost 17-0 at home to Tennessee
This week: Nine-point underdogs at Indianapolis
Any optimism about a reborn Giants offence was quashed by the Titans and the Colts are likely to be equally unforgiving. Rumours about quarterback Eli Manning's future have also resurfaced.
23 Detroit Lions down one
Last week: Lost 14-13 at Buffalo
This week: 5.5-point underdogs at home to Minnesota
The Lions have scored more than 20 points just once since their Week Seven victory in Miami. Coach Mike Patricia has plenty to address in the close season.
24 Tampa Bay Buccaneers unchanged
Last week: Lost 20-12 at Baltimore
This week: Seven-point underdogs at Dallas
In many respects, the Buccaneers have exceeded many people's expectations this season but two straight defeats, admittedly against good teams, have knocked them back a bit. They remain capable on their day though.
25 Cincinnati Bengals up one
Last week: Won 30-16 at Oakland
This week: Seven-point underdogs at Cleveland
The Bengals overcome the absence of quarterback Andy Dalton to beat the Raiders and running back Joe Mixon looks sharp, but let's maintain some perspective. It was the Raiders.
26 San Francisco 49ers up three
Last week: Won 26-23 at home to Seattle
This week: Four-point underdogs at home to Chicago
The Niners showed great battling qualities against the Seahawks to claim one of their best victories of the season. They'll look back on the campaign and wonder how they might have fared had quarterback Jimmy Garrapolo remained healthy.
27 New York Jets unchanged
Last week: Lost 29-22 at home to Houston
This week: Pick-em match at home to Green Bay
The Jets have won just one of their last eight games but then that's not been untypical in recent years. Another spring of soul-searching beckons.
28 Buffalo Bills up two
Last week: Won 14-13 at home to Detroit
This week: 12.5-point underdogs at New England
The Bills have won two of their last four matches and lost the other two by four points, so they should be heading in the right direction. Quarterback Josh Allen should be benefiting from the experience.
29 Jacksonville Jaguars down four
Last week: Lost 16-13 at home to Washington
This week: Four-point underdogs at Miami
The campaign has been a washout for the Jaguars since they won three of their opening four games. Losing to the Redskins who fielded their fourth quarterback of the season was a new low.
30 Washington Redskins up one
Last week: Won 16-13 at Jacksonville
This week: Ten-point underdogs at Tennessee
Quarterback Josh Johnson got the Redskins over the line in his first NFL start since 2011. It seems unlikely that he'll have enough to help them into the playoffs but you never know.
31 Oakland Raiders down three
Last week: Lost 30-16 at Cincinnati
This week: 2.5-point underdogs at home to Denver
It was always going to be a rebuilding job at Oakland and coach Jon Gruden still has another nine years of his contract to run. Preparations for next term started a long time ago.
32 Arizona Cardinals unchanged
Last week: Lost 40-14 at Atlanta
This week: 14-point underdogs at home to Los Angeles Rams
It's difficult to be competitive when you average just 13.7 points per game. Closing divisional matches against the Rams and the Seahawks look daunting.